Weaver at the Loom - Before Now, Was Then
Record Label: Independent
Release Date: October 25, 2011
With the recent and quite honestly gratuitous review of the new Coldplay album, I thought it only right and good to bring attention to what Coldplay should be doing right now. The essence of such a lofty feat is captured in the newest release of the Minneapolis-native ambient disciples known as Weaver at the Loom, titled Before Now, Was Then. To claim that such a minor and disregarded band has transcended their highly major and very much elder sibling is not something that can be done without a good deal of evidence, something I am more than willing to articulate, and something Weaver at the Loom have provided with an intensely specific beauty and finesse previously untouched--even by the other relatively unsung greats such as Jonsi and Hammock.
Peeling back every layer of this beautifully tailored suit graces us with a full understanding of just how great Before Now, Was Then is, and I suggest that my dear readers focus on adding each layer one by one with each listen after they have become acquainted with the general nature of it. The most immediate and consistent of these layers is also the meat of the common soundscape: thickly ethereal ambient tones that fall somewhere in the central vicinity of a few things: a double-medley of the infinitely towering Coldplay-esque atmosphere with soothing post-rock textures, a strong dash of trance-like electronic beats and subtle electronic modifications, and artificial synth melodies which have a mellow depth that is best described as a liquefacted form of the overall ether. The spirited flame produced by just this single layer is something that can never be put out. However, lest the gentle warmth suffer near-complete obscurity by being categorized into the rather standardized ambient stress-relief new age typicism that's been around for at least 20 years, it would only be prudent for more layers to be added.
Next we come to the more active layers of the album, greatly amplified by the previously evaluated base. This encompasses two very key components, the first of these being the beautifully gentle and unexpectedly lower-ranged crooning of vocalist and songwriter Dan Smith, as the usual vocal signature of this subgenre is in the much higher leagues of Jonas Bjerre or Jonsi Birgisson. Instead, we are given a lower firmness similar to Coldplay's Chris Martin, and some welcome jazz-tinged nuances of John Mayer and The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli. Smith's vocals throughout each track are dreamy and soulfully soothing; brimming with emotion but not overpoweringly so, and with perfectly placed background harmonization to boot. The second key component is the percussion, surprisingly powerful for the genre in comparison, rolling slowly along and firmly imposing its authority on the tempo of each track. Lastly, the keys help fortify the well-established jazz flavor twist along with the vocals, and the more textured riffs allow the ambience to encompass the ornamentation of post-rock, rather than merely settling for ambient pop. An intriguing assembly, indeed.
Weaver at the Loom have made defined progress from their original EP, if only in terms of honing, concentrating, and further expanding upon the sound they established previously. I Was Searching and I Found doesn't lack life per se, but the newly found vitality brimming inside their latest offering has clearly been transformational in terms of the impact their work will have on listeners in the hereafter. I've already been exposing this album to some friends of mine of varying musical backgrounds. All of them loved it, and two were especially stricken by it. Coldplay, please take note.