This week, ‘Spillin’ The Beans is having a listen to an album that is planned for release in January 2018. The artist in question is Wooter, a.k.a Rowan Brind, a New York-based musician who describes himself as a multi-instrumentalist/music producer.
To be honest, I had planned to review this a few weeks ago, but, at the time, wasn’t really able to devote any time to listen, because I had a lot of stuff going on. Anyway, I’ve got the time now, so here goes.
First off, I am listening to a private Soundcloud stream, so I’m not able to share that with you, but Wooter has a page on Bandcamp, here, and on Soundcloud here, where you can listen to his work, the album tracks not really straying too far from Wooter’s already available output. As far as I can see, some of the album tracks are there, the rather lovely “Peach” in particular. Apparently, Wooter has been releasing one song every week for all of 2017 as part of a 6 album compilation, so he’s been a busy guy. He’s also on Facebook. I wonder where he finds the time for social media?
So, as we all seem to be starting our sentences these days, what does it all sound like? Well, it is pretty eclectic stuff. It is guitar, bass and drums, with vocals, plus a fair amount of electronic treatment. To my ears, it is the electronic layers that really add the spice and interest to the music. To be honest, I find it hard to pin him down. In some ways, these songs could be blue-eyed soul, in other hands, and at times they sound like they would work brilliantly in the hands of a multi-voice group like the Beach Boys. I think that it is music with big ambitions, in places it has a dynamic that really seems to want a big state. In that respect, it reminds me of Todd Rundgren, without particularly sounding like him. I also get a lot of reminders of people like M83, Air and others who work in the space between electronica and rock. The track “Finger” has some terrific guitar work that slips easily into stadium rock territory. Elsewhere, you get big crescendos, choruses and layers upon layers of sound. Like I said, big ambitions.
It took me a while to really get to grips with the music, at least three plays through, but I got there in the end. If there is one thing that jars, it is the way some tracks just seem to stop abruptly and the next one begins. I think a few segues would work better, but perhaps that is a quibble, because I actually do like what I hear.
There is a big retro vibe here, which I think is clearly the intention, but I also kept on wondering whether a rapper might pop up in some of the tracks, because it has that modern techno/soulful/retro/hip hop crossover sound, a bit Thundercat/Flying Lotus/ Kendrick Lamar territory, again without really sounding like them either. There is a real laidback, summery, shimmery thing going on in places, which is very pleasant. There are lots of ideas here, perhaps not all fully-realised, but there is plenty to keep your ears busy. If I do have a criticism, it is that the music is very one-paced, but it is interesting to hear someone trying to work in a difficult area of music and not sound stale or derivative. One track I really like, which although it is on my private stream, is also available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp, so you CAN hear it, is “Messin’ Around“. In fact, there are a few of the album tracks publicly available, so listening to the music will give you an idea what the album sounds like. Personally, “Peach” would make a brilliant single. I love the synth work on that track and the ecstatic overall soaring sound.
My recommendation here is to listen and make up your own minds. In my opinion, Wooter is an interesting artist with some great ideas and he’s aiming high.