Saturday, November 24, 2007

I wrote the review below for the forthcoming album by Aspen Woods, it's good you know. The album that is, not my writing.

Aspen Woods
New World Disorder

At last friends it time to take a trip in the company of Aspen Woods, it’s been a long time coming. Sit down, switch your phone off and step into lush sonic textures which the band have prepared for you.

It’s not a journey that should be rushed, here is an album where you can almost feel the songs stretching and inching their way into life, not that there is anything shy or self-effacing about them. Aspen Woods are rightly confident enough to know that they don’t need to barge their way into your life, the magnificent opening track “All Roads Lead Here” is case in point, gently chiming guitars and mournful keyboards blend with singer Lee Spinelli’s plaintive vocal for a full three minutes before the song reaches it’s emotional heartland, the song still has another five minutes to luxuriate it’s way through, the cobwebs of your beleaguered mind, yet it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

The same can be said of the rest of the album; of the remaining nine tracks none are less than six minutes long and for once that’s a good thing. However it would be a mistake to think that we are embarking on a purely gentle semi psychedelic journey.

Take the storming version of Harold Arlen’s 1929 classic “Get Happy”, they move the tune from it’s charming jazz gospel roots into wall shaking stomp of song which will send the Sunday afternoon Ella Fitzgerald fans running for their life. Following on from that is big sky epic “Passing Thoughts” a song just waiting for some film director to add it to scene when the guy makes his tear soaked journey away from the girl his loves but can’t be with. Not that the lyrics in the song have anything to do with that scene but the music which the band create is full of potent visual imagery, pick a song – make your own movie.

As with the works of Spiritualised there is a sense of spiritual yearning within the epic soundscapes that stops the album becoming merely an exercise in sonic dexterity. The messages behind songs such as “Drones” and the wondrous shimmering album closer “Outside In” clearly extol the virtues of self-determination and taking control of your own destiny. It’s a message that Aspen Woods themselves have followed, producing an album which can connect as strongly with the head as it does with the diaphragm during those monstrous fuzzy guitar journeys.

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