Roddy Woomble has never been an artist content to repeat himself. He’s worked in a number of genres, and still come up on top smelling of roses and sounding compelling. His latest release sees him working with Idlewild bassist Andrew Mitchell to produce something different and indeed challenging categorisation as far as possible. It’s not made up of conventional songs, and seems to be closer to electronica than rock or folk.
And yet listening to this, it makes perfect sense in the context of Woomble’s recorded work, which now stretches over twenty years. This isn’t conventional rock songs, but nor is it poetry recited over electronica. The opening title track sets the tone. Evoking the mood of Aidan Moffat collaborating with Bill Wells as much as the work of Boards Of Canada, it plugs into that gorgeous distinctively Scottish melancholia that cuts across genres, compelling with its sad, addictive beauty. Described as ‘a hazy rumination regarding the sun’s universal warmth and power’ it’s a wonderful start.
And as the EP unfurls, ‘Context Of Midnight‘ is a meditative piece – possibly a put down to a former lover? – that evokes a midnight walk alone with your own thoughts. ‘Straight To Blame‘ channels Talk Talk, Joy Division and dub, as if the present were directly connecting with the early 1980s. Meanwhile ‘Secret For The Last Time‘ is the most straightforward track on this release, a folky piece, that contrasts with the William Basinski-style loops on ‘One Minute Out Of The World.’
Yet it’s the final track ‘RW OC Cut Up‘ that is the most astounding part of this EP. Seventeen minutes long, it’s a collaboration with cellist and composer Oliver Coates, it came about when Woomble was playing a show in a highland teepee. The collage of Woomble’s cut-up words with cinematic drone was meant to function as playlist to condition the atmosphere while the audience arrived. It’s described as being the most experimental thing Woomble has ever released – but it must also rank as one of the artistic high points of his career so far. Given what he’s achieved as Idlewild frontman and a number of excellent solo records, that’s high praise indeed.
Overall the feel of the record is minimalist, yet paradoxically, there’s a lot going on that’s not all taken in on the first listen. That’s not a problem; it’s a release that not only demands your attention, but also deserves it. At a time when the world needs it most, this six-track EP is a thing of beauty. Enjoy the thirty-four minutes it lasts. Treasure it.