By Boe Weaver
Boe Weaver's self-titled debut album, is nine instrumental tracks that take the elevator-music blueprint, and imbue it with just enough hooks to make each song distinct and memorable. If background music with a psychedelic 60's slant sounds like your idea of a good time, then this is the album for you.
Album highlights are difficult to distinguish on this sort of subtly, insidiously catchy instrumental fare, but the songs that will linger longest in the mind are album-opener 'Deadpan,' 'Ghouls,' 'Monster Maker,' 'Jelly Bean' and 'The Electric Man.'
'Deadpan' and 'Ghouls' have an advantage over the rest of the album as they are the only songs to feature vocals - or what passes for vocals in a Boe Weaver song. Album-opener 'Deadpan's closest point of reference is a tribal-inspired word music track performed by a chorus of squeaky-voiced munchkins. Even when the elf-people aren't nattering away, 'Deadpan' keeps the avant-garde-meets-tribal flow going with rumbling drumbeats decked out in buzzy synths and starburst chord-strumming, bringing this 'land that time forgot' chant sharply into the 21st Century.
'Ghouls' has its own trilling, wordless chorus, but this time it's backed up by an infectiously jazzy stomp of slick slide-guitar, bouncy-ball drums and jangly sound effects that tempt you to clap along. A slice of unashamedly psychedelic 60's pop.
It's all about the jagged guitars on 'Monster Maker' and 'Jelly Bean.' During the former, broken-up guitar lines stutter and bristle between swirls of cheerfully whistling synths and flickers of piano. 'Jelly Bean' uses a similarly stammery guitar rhythm, only this time it's slathered in a thick crackle that makes it sound even kookier. Two protracted instrumental wig-outs, which ship with enough hooks to keep your average pop fanatic happy.
'The Electric Man,' however, is something really special, brilliantly capturing the mood of the spaghetti western. Maybe it's the galloping rhythms, or the long, lonely, whistly synths, or the dry guitars, but 'The Electric Man' aims for a mood, and nails it.
The rest of the album takes a more subtle approach and is consequently easier to overlook. Still, spend a bit of extra time in their company and you'll gradually discover more and more to like. 'Mysterious Island' is a constantly-evolving, barebones track where guitars and synths restlessly and seamlessly exchange places. You have to squint to see where one instrument becomes another. It's perfectly executed, and backed up by quirky hand-claps that'll have you itching to clap along. Despite the title, 'Let It Die' whistles and tweets cheerfully against a backdrop that alternates between a boomy stomp and a glittering muddle of synths. Those bird-like synths will get you whistling along - although, the fade-down at the end has a definite whiff of 'cop out' about it. Instrumentals in particular, require a 'proper' ending.
The two songs that are most likely to slip by unnoticed are 'Manhunt Part 2' and album-closer 'I Think You Two Should Leave.' 'Manhunt Part 2' is an unobtrusive putter of keyboards and soft drumbeats, with only a long, dizzy shriek of synths towards the end finally kicking 'Manhunt Part 2' into second gear. Without that synth, 'Manhunt Part 2' would be completely forgettable. 'I Think You Two Should Leave' is electro ambience that, once again, livens up towards the end, with a bit of grating guitar to roughen up proceedings, but it's too little, too late. Enjoyable enough, but don't expect to stick this one on repeat.
An album of nine ambient-with-added-bite instrumentals, is 'odd' by definition in today's music industry, but once you begin listening to Boe Weaver, it's perfectly accessible. If you need something to fill in the silence without making any demands on your consciousness - and without sending you into a coma - then this album is perfect. Although, it is difficult to imagine anyone going crazy over this.