What does it sound like?:
Wovoka Gentle are a trio from London: twins Imogen and Ellie Mason and William Stokes. The music they make is an eclectic sound collage. They can all turn their hand to any instrument they care to reach for but they tend to use synthesisers, drum machines, samplers, effects units and guitars, lots of guitars. Steadfastly refusing to be pidgeon-holed, they have no respect for genres or musical styles and have the attention span of a gnat. A Wovoka Gentle track could be a Pastoral Folk song with Electronic squelches set to an African beat, topped with ripe, close harmonies, suddenly handbrake-turning into New Order, lurching onto a sea shanty and finishing up with Johnny Cash. It’s as though they’ve randomised the most diverse playlist they could think of and flit from one track to the next before each has finished.
At first, Start Clanging Cymbals is as challenging a listen as its title suggests. However, coherence improves as the album goes on and over repeated listens. The youthful vibrancy of the music is infectious. The sound is warm and bright. There is some beautiful playing here. They are all skilful musicians. The vocals are extremely well composed and some of the voices, sampled or otherwise, are heavenly. They have a fetching way with the use of brackets in a song title, for example Peculiar Form Of Sleep (Tiresias Theban) or Sin Is Crouching At Your Door (Sad Puppy!!!1!). There are moments of serene calm in the midst of the chaos, especially on the exquisitely gentle Tell ‘Em, Makoto! and the richly orchestrated Oystercatcher, but, more than anything, this is happy music to listen to when the days are long and the sun is shining.
The name, Wovoka Gentle, and some of their song titles are taken from poems. Somehow, their love of poetry should make them even more endearing but the songs, themselves, don’t quite connect emotionally. They need to learn the skill of pulling on heart strings to really move their listeners.
Start Clanging Cymbals is a fascinating, skilfully put together album whose display of technique and imagination is admirable. Music critics are likely to be delighted. Players of FIFA 19 seem to enjoy 1,000 Opera Singers Working In Starbucks. The question remains if the general public or Afterworders will be impressed. Some will find it tiresome and exhausting, others will be thrilled.
Start Clanging Cymbals is a fine piece of human endeavour that is easier to regard from a distance than to emotionally engage with. However, it certainly deserves a few moments of your time for you to decide for yourself.
What does it all *mean*?
The talent of young people today is awesome.
Goes well with…
An open mind. This music sounds so much better if you simply surrender to it.
Might suit people who like…
Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion or Panda Bear’s Person Pitch but without the shrill sound nor the slightest hint of darkness.