on 11 August 2007
Rick Tomlinson aka Voice of The Seven Woods has been making a name for himself among the cognoscenti for some time now with limited release CDRs, retro- format 7"s and storming live shows, so I'm sure I was not the only one eagerly anticipating him finally releasing a commercially-available album. And it doesn't disappoint. Timewarp yourself back to the acoustic hippie-folk and psychedelic rock of the 1970s, with its oriental tinges, and you'll have an idea of what the arboreal strumming of Voice of The Seven Woods has to offer. Whilst he doesn't quite play at the raga-inspired acoustic 12-string virtuosity of James Blackshaw and Jack Rose, adding a touch more electricity and voice, he will appeal to fans of the same. The psychedelic folk of Ben Chasny's Six Organs of Admittance serves as another useful point of reference, as does even the laptop folk of Tunng, even if Rick Tomlinson keeps the electronic trickery out of it, and goes for pulsing oriental mystery rather than the pagan songs of childlike wonder preferred by Tunng. This album will certainly be earning its keep on my soundsystem- great stuff from an up-and-coming talent.
In an era where precious little truly stands out as pushing that elusive envelope Voice Of The Seven Woods are one of a select few who can claim to be producing music that is truly original .A beguiling mixture of folk , psychedelic and krautrock with jazz infusions and the occasional percolation of world music this album has more inventiveness and ideas contained within its ten songs than the entire Mercury music prize nomination list.
Voice Of The Seven Woods is one man essentially -Rick Tomlinson who plays guitar, oud?, sitar, piano and percussion . He is complimented by ex Broadcast drummer Chris Walmsley also on percussion and piano and Pete Hedley who plays eclectic bass and violin . The bands name and the sleeve photography not to mention the song titles suggests some elemental connection with nature and there is an almost organic feel about the music at times , almost as if it has evolved or gestated rather than as a result of normal song writing processes .
The music is mostly instrumental and often meandering but a sporadic vocal like on "Silver Morning Branches"-"I was woken by the sound of the sun"- or "Dusk Cloud" breaks the dulcet reverie and is welcome as it breaks the album up and adds variety .
I would like a little more of the vocals as Tomlinson has a pleasant lilting voice and it would perhaps have stopped the music's oblique nature which at times wanders down a cul de sac or becomes repetitive without being dynamic. This is a minor complaint and entirely in keeping with music this adventurous .When it gels like on the splendidly dextrous opener "Sand And Flames " or the psychedelic wig out "The Fire In My Head" it's superb .On the "Twisted Nerve" label and billed as a "Finder Keepers" production this album truly is a case of losers weepers. If you read this, buy it, don't miss out .
on 15 January 2008
Unlike fellow 2007 - guitar guru, James Blackshaw, Rick Tomlinson of Voice of Seven Woods isn't afraid to take risks. Admittedly I'm a newcomer to his stuff, having only really heard this official release, but from the diversity of guitar playing on this desk, I'd have to say this is surely a guy who knows what he's doing. Opening with the Spanish/North African tinged Sand and Flames it's like the desert blues have come to England. But then nothing seems out of reach on album where Tomlinson is happy to nod gently towards Middle-Eastern folk (The Fire in My Head), 60s psychedelia (Second Transition - maybe more than a nod here) and even Krautrock (Return From Byzantium). It's then what Tomlinson does with these disparate (maybe they're not that different after all) influences in his guitar playing that stops the listener being thrown around all the over the place, but manages to keep them constantly entertained. I imagine as I listen to this album, that I'm driving through a desert, the scenery, which is undoubtedly barren still has an elusive beauty about it, and then every so often I see out of the window, a fantastic, undiscovered, ancient structure in the distance.
Highlights: Sand and Flames, Silver Morning Branches, Return from Byzantium