Posted by Kate Zezulka.
Reviewed on 13th September 2008.
Live at Brudenell Social Club on Thursday, 11th September 2008
I like to think that one day Forest of Sound will make a mistake: they are clearly just too good at choosing the right acts to book for the right nights. In the meantime, though, it's worth putting up with their outlandish indestructibility to catch these stunning nights.
Michael Rossiter eases us in gently this evening with his unadorned, warm folk music. The simple one-man-band accompaniment instrumentation of guitar and make-shift tambourine draws attention to his pure, open vocal stylings and the occasional instrumental track allows for his dexterous picking-work to be showcased. His self-effacing banter also serves to get the audience on side, although perhaps the real clincher is his invitation to a punter to take over tambourine duties; although musically this is a dubious idea, socially the contents of The Brudenell are sold. And Rossiter makes up for one song with excessive tempo rubato by being a remarkably talented instrumentalist elsewhere.
The absolute dazed silence Peter Broderick instils during his set even seems to hush the clanking of glasses and ker-ching of tills. There are traces of most 20th century classical movements, from minimalism to impressionism via a little electronicism, as well as straightforward acoustic, but the set transcends these monikers and is simply achingly beautiful and mesmeric. His ethereal vocals, feathery guitar work, light pianistic touch and graceful double-stopped and harmonized violin parts are all looped to create a full yet willowy sound and truly are heartbreaking. His immaculate multi-instrumentalist capabilities seem almost superhumanly effortless and his closing moment leaving the stage, letting the loop decay and fade and foraying into the audience with a whirly tube is not only charmingly droll but also, paradoxically, one of the most perfectly stunning set-closers imaginable.
And next we are bustled onto Seabear. The unusual mix of timbres from this whimsical folk-pop collective is arguably what really gives them their gently starry-eyed ethos, combining lulling guitar and piano work with the more unusual, such as some lovely autoharp and mini-glock, and orchestral textures brought by strings and brass. Lilting primary harmony on acoustic guitar is brightened up by virtuosic violin playing and fantastic band unity on some soaring doubled melodies. The gently psychedelic and tender content both lyrically and musically is further supported by a few puckish running jokes established early on and the audience is happily ensconced - an utterly magical and charismatic contribution to the night.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums put the cherry on top of an already enticing musical cake. The sheer intensity of performance from both Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin in itself is remarkable but Wallentin's quite astounding expressive vocal qualities, with incredible range and variation in timbre, and Werliin's innovative, almost melodic approach to percussion put a real juggernaut of power behind their raw, organic approach. Even from one bar to the next, Wildbirds & Peacedrums veer impassionedly between delicate, heartrending ballad styles, complete with brushes, delicate alto kalimba and zither, to gritty, percussive and blues-inflected power. And if you can break a nail from over-zealous zither playing (which Mariam does spectacularly, and still the tone doesn't seem to suffer!) then surely that is the best illustration of the pure zeal of the duo.
Another unforgettable evening of fresh and idiosyncratic music from some alarmingly creative individuals, expertly chosen by Forest of Sound. If you're in need of somewhere to place your musical faith, here might be best.
Arcane songs and other relics