Boomkat Product Review:
Rivers collects in album form the two recent 12" vinyl releases (Retina and Iris) from Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums.
For this new venture, Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums expand their singular, percussion-heavy sound with the recruitment of the Schola Cantorum Reykjavik Chamber Choir, who have previously worked with Bjork on her all-vocal album, Medulla. In fact the Icelandic connection doesn't end there: the EP features arrangement from Hildur Guðnadótir, recording by Ben Frost and production from the latter's Bedroom Community pal, Valgeir Sigurðsson. The outcome of all this is a brilliant five-song release that hopefully gives some indication of the direction this band might head in next. As ever, vocalist Mariam Wallentin leads the way with a bewitchingly charismatic performance, and Andreas Werliin imposes a structural backbone via his drums, but the choral elements really add to the duo's music. It might be said that the ordinarily very fulsome and versatile percussive elements are ever so slightly impoverished by this new direction, but it's a trade-off that works well, particularly on 'Fight For Me' which locks onto a memorably mighty thud.
While Retina was recorded in a Reykjavik church with the Schola Cantorum Chamber Choir, this release sees Wildbirds & Peacedrums reverting to their conventional duo line-up, with Andreas Werliin playing drums and percussion while Mariam Wallentin undertakes some fairly major multitasking: singing while playing steel drums and an organ bass pedal. Once again, Bedroom Community mainstays Valgeir Sigurðsson and Ben Frost are in charge of recording and mixing duties, but this time it all takes place within the facilities of Greenhouse Studios. Despite the more controlled production environment you really get a sense of this duo's stunning presence as a live act, and Wallentin's ability to carve out a strong, melodically coherent song using such minimal and often abstract accompaniment is truly something to behold. The strongest entries are the songs bookending the EP: 'The Wave' establishes a memorable chorus from the vantage point of a slow tempo and methodical bass intervals, while closing track 'The Well' has real urgency and kinetic energy about it, building to a climax full of thrashing cymbals and flurrying steel drum work.