That any single recording might contain an Ondes Martenot (an extraordinary sonic tool beloved by the composer Olivier Messiaen) and the sublimely strange Tilda Swinton might seem almost too much to ask for but they are both to be found here in Mr Wolf's new offering 'The Bachelor' in very fine fettle and in perfect working order.
Lycanthropic associations aside this Old Wolf has found much to admire in his younger namesake's latest release. The album is a veritable tour de force.
This is quite extraordinary music. Imagination, adroit musicianship and palpably real passion coalesce in compositions of wonderfully realised technical complexity and blistering emotional range.
The forces that he has amassed for the project play and sing their hearts out for him. Choirs and strings, together with electronic and acoustic elements, combine to produce some of the most vivid and thrilling soundscapes it has been my privilege to hear in the last decade. Trust me it really, really is that good !
'Hard Times' kicks the collection off in upliftingly raucous style. The strings and gospel choir are a truly inspirational and rousing inclusion.
The loose-limbed and loping blues of title track 'The Bachelor' is a hoot !
'Who Will' is an anthemic song, whose secular hymn-like ambience made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I possess hair aplenty and it still hasn't come down !
'Battle' is a proud, uncompromising cris-de-coeur. A defiant paean against prejudice. (Every bit as raw and wonderful as Bjork's 'Declare Independence').
'The Sun Is Often Out' is a heartrending outpouring of grief and loss. Profoundly affecting.
Ms Swinton's lyrical echoes are embedded subtly in the slow march of 'Theseus' imbuing a great song with even greater colour and depth. A small masterpiece.
Mr Wolf has pulled off a very rare thing with this labour of love. A perfect album in fact.
Patrick Wolf's fourth album is his first recorded with a budget, in proper studios, and with serious collaborations (The Magic Position's dalliance with Marianne Faithful notwithstanding in the facer of Eliza Carthy, Matthew Herbert, Tilda Swinton, and Alec Empire, who all appear here). It's also, (in)famously partly funded by donations from fans paid via the internet - £100,000 to mix the album and subsidise early tours.
The resulting record may well alienate fans of the low-fi, bedroom caterwauling that made up his debut, Lycanthropy, or the lonesome promontory folk of Wind In The Wires. It may even confuse fans of the pop-inclined Magic Position, his last album from 2007. But it shouldn't, because The Bachelor, a collection of songs charting the dark days and emotions that followed his brush with major record labels and existential panic, is a terrific record that sees Patrick step not only out of his bedroom but also out of the shadow of his key influences - namely Kate Bush and David Bowie.
Because have no doubts about it; this is a big, elaborate, ostentatious record that has more in common with The Hounds Of Love than with whoever's trendy with the gatekeepers of indie taste in 2009. Swinging from darkly tinged, sexually-charged electro on Vulture to bona fide English folk traditions on the title track, Thickets, and Blackdown, and taking in dramatic string & choir laden ruminations on loneliness such as Damaris and Theseus, as well as full-on guitar driven anthemic rock (Hard Times), and perfect symbioses of all of this distilled into perfect dissonant pop nuggets (Oblivion), it covers all the bases that Patrick has traversed through his career thus far, only now it does so with a stronger purpose, with more accomplished songs - with a sense of ambition and pride and imperative.
Yes, it verges on overblown on numerous occasions; yes, choirs are deployed; yes, Patrick's vocals are now dramatically accomplished and refined rather than the castrato terror that typified his debut: but this is what happens when a gifted boy grows into a talented man. Some people will doubtless see this as a betrayal or a loss; others will recognise it as an evolution.
That £100,000 is well spent, too, because this is a gorgeous-sounding record, rich with timbre and scale, depth and dynamics, flutes and violas and sequencers and ancient synthesisers and guitars and drums and ukulele and grand piano and church organ and double bass and sitar and "circuit bent mobile phone" and cutlery percussion and massed voices recorded and mixed with real skill and attention to sonic detail.
If you can't tell, I think this is Patrick Wolf's masterpiece.Read more ›
With a spirit of desire and movement more present then ever in this, Patrick's fourth chapter, here is a offering of immense maturity and spirit, gracefully exploring the everlasting growing pains of a commensurate artist and brilliant soul. Both Subtle and hard hitting, once again this album is a progression in Patrick's musical journey.
Like the rest of Patrick's back catalogue, the album is incredibly emotive and cathartic. Indeed it seems to me the feel of this album can change depending on the mood of the listener. On one had it takes hard experiences and lays them bare and clear and grating, and on the other, it shows the need for them to make us move forward, work harder, see the light set against the darkness.
' Give me hard times, I'll work harder, harder For revolution'
In this album Patrick has gone even further in clashing and melding more traditional sounds (particularly prevalent in tracks like 'thickets' and 'theseus' which carry a real celtic spirit in them) with fast paced and sometimes cutting processed sound (shown in 'count of casualty' and 'oblivion') This Celtic lilt is certainly the way forward, a greatly mature and modern progression i love the classical style of folk story telling in songs like 'Damaris'. The equivalency of fast paced songs to ballads is just right.
My only gripe with the album is the song Battle, which, although a good attempt at a more 'rock-n-roll' song, it falls short of the rest, as (imo) the lyrics sound a little awkward and the style forced.
My favourite song on the album is its Tenth track 'Blackdown'
'wet afternoon breath was taken deep into my lungs thinking of the man i must become
my story has just begun and i will be returning to myself soon'
It is a beautiful thing to see such a talented musician create like this, and i urge you to experience this album.
We must remember too that this album was in a major way financed though Bandstocks, meaning that it was Mr. Wolf's fans that stood to loose out if he didn't create something wonderful. Despite the added pressure this must have created the extra freedom of expression has shown us what an artist can do when really allowed to take their idea and run.
Brava Patrick, waiting for part two now with great expectation.Read more ›