woodpecker wooliams Diving Down (CD, £6.75)label: Autumn Ferment Records
Diving Down is the beautiful debut full length album from Brighton based multi instrumentalist Gemma Williams' Woodpecker Wooliams. Recorded in an 800 year old cottage below a Devonshire castle, it is an album of magic and of yarn, where you can still hear the spit and crackle of the fire and possibly some whispers from the ancient cottage walls. The album is a fermentation of harps and strings of bells, of chimes and whistles, blown reeds and dulcet tones all of which are cast alive by the Merry Woodpecker's vocal of stark beauty, sweet in tone with an edge of morose. At times a traditionally inspired folk thread runs through the album, tales such as the beautifully haunting and spiritually imbued sea shanty Diving Down and the primordial dawning, raga like Out Walking are both delivered with the same air of cautionary tale that Liege & Leaf era Sandy Denny once regaled. Hobby Horse like bells and electronic drones on tracks like In Your Mouth and Put a bird bring a more modern folk bent to the album with shamanistic trance like undertones and intensities coupled with an occult presence like that of a 1970s film soundtrack. Comparisons to another pixie like plucker of harp strings and purveyor of magic, Joanna Newsom, can be made (there's even a little Kate Bush high end in there too), but Diving Down delivers itself as a truly unique recording, one of depth and intrigue, successfully bridging the ever decreasing gap between experimental, genre splitting modernity and solid, time old folk lore.
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