Other Sides of Wildbirds & Peacedrums | Bleader

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Other Sides of Wildbirds & Peacedrums

Posted By on 02.16.10 at 04:31 PM

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Wildbirds & Peacedrums
  • Wildbirds & Peacedrums
On Thursday night Wildbirds & Peacedrums return to Chicago, opening for St. Vincent at Metro. I missed the Swedish duo's previous show in town, at the same venue in February 2009, but by all accounts they blew headliner Lykke Li off the stage—something I have no trouble believing, based on the Wildbirds & Peacedrums set I saw in Norway in 2008. Though there's little in the way of jazz on their two excellent records, the most recent of which is The Snake (released in the U.S. last year by the Control Group), in 2008 the group won the prestigious "Jazz in Sweden" prize. After the jump you can check out "My Heart," one of the many great songs from the latest album.

Both percussionist Andreas Werliin and singer Marian Wallentin studied improvisation at the University of Gothenburg, and both dropped out because they found school too confining. Though Wildbirds & Peacedrums have a pop heart, the members of the duo still pursue experimental and improvisational music. Last year Norwegian imprint Rune Grammofon released You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago, the searing debut album by a leaderless trio called Fire! that consists of Werliin, reedist Mats Gustafsson, and bassist Johan Berthling (a key member of Tape, who played in town last month, he's also in the touring bands for El Perro del Mar and Taken by Trees, who play Lincoln Hall together on February 22). Fire! doesn't exactly play jazz either, but the group's skeletal dirges—which, like Wildbirds & Peacedrums' tunes, sometimes seem inspired by work songs—combine Werliin's taut, hypnotic grooves with loads of improvisation on saxophone, keyboards, and noisy electronics. Werliin's playing occasionally shows a fairly strong Krautrock influence as well, such as on the second half of "But Sometimes I Am," where Wallentin adds vocals. Below you can hear album opener "If I Took Your Hand . . . "

Wallentin's work outside Wildbirds & Peacedrums has been a bit more scattered but equally rewarding. I don't know much about her piece "Haiku for Cowboys" beyond the fact that it features four of Sweden's most interesting guitarists (including David Stackenäs and Christian Munthe) playing and wearing cowboy hats, but this performance footage makes clear what a terrific piece of music it is. Though you can hear Wallentin's distinctive, throaty voice, she's nowhere to be seen in the video below, which was shot live at the GEIGER Festival in Gothenburg in October 2009.

Haiku for Cowboys from Christian Munthe on Vimeo.

She also turns up in much more abstract terrain, making a guest appearance with experimental duo Labfield (Stackenäs and percussionist Ingar Zach) on Collab (Hubro, 2009); she mixes wordless vocal sounds into a viscous, enveloping drone on "Crucial."

Today's playlist:

Maddy Prior, Ravenchild (Park)
Edward Ratliff, Those Moments Before (Strudel Media)
Various artists, Sound System International Dub LP (Pressure Sounds)
Bad Touch, Like a Magic Kiss (Bad Touch Music)
Alan Courtis, Jaime Genovart, Christof Kurzmann, and Pablo Reche, Palmar Zähler (Mikroton)

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