“We felt we wanted a really hard-hitting intro track that makes you go, ‘woah, what is this record?’” says Imogen Mason of Wovoka Gentle, who along with twin sister Ellie and her husband Will Stokes who make up the band, before adding “It feels to us like a declarative statement about what the album is about: making a lot of noise, saying what you wanna, do you feel listening.” She’s talking about the opening track of their album Start Clanging Cymbals, Salient Point.
She goes on to add “There’s the abrasiveness and the sampling, but also violin and mandolin. And there’s this deep, tranquil phase. We also like songs in two halves.” and these things form the core of the album, juxtapositions of musical threads woven together, influences scattered brazenly in front of you, but mixed up with eachother so fluidly it’s almost impossible to tell what they are, or where one stops and the other starts.
In the end what is laid out in front of you is this sort of folk-infused, indie-disco led, electro pop, half coated in this day-glo feel good sheen, half in this country/folk hue, but both grab you by the hand and drag you along with them. The centrepiece is the frankly brilliantly titled ‘1000 opera singers working in Starbucks’, this breathless electro ride, stuttering synths and singalong chorus’ the order of the day.
But it’s not a one trick pony, not with this band at the helm. There’s occasionally possibly too many tricks – maybe even too many ponies, and its only the strength of the songs that lets them get away with it. Well that along with this scattergun approach to adding folk instruments (the bands origins, as unlikely as it sounds on this album, are in the London folk scene), along with trumpets, samples , and just about everything else into the mix.
As such tracks like Small Victory, with its static sounding bass, gluey synth lines and catchy vocals really work, as do Tell ‘Em, Makoto, and Xerxes ’19 with the formers chiming swoons on guitar and picked acoustic parts making it stand out amongst the dizzying soundclash, and the latters vocal harmonies and emotive string parts.
You won’t hear another album like Wovoka Gentle’s Start Clanging Cymbals this year, but largely thats a good thing. It spills over with ideas and influences, but mostly it’s an album of dazzling pop songs dressed up as whatever the band wants them to be at that particular moment.
Start Clanging Cymbals is out now on Nude Records