The east of England isn’t known for its trip-hop scene, even less so for producing bands ascribed to make a sound that’s a mix between that and chamber music. Yet somehow, out of their folksy Norfolk homeland, Wooden Arms have emerged.
The quintet, led by classically trained pianist Alex Carson, have just released their first full-length album, ‘Trick of the Light’, ahead of a European tour encompassing England and Germany this December. And if the album, which follows on from the band’s ‘Tide’ EP back in 2014, is anything to go by then you should catch them sooner rather than later.
The album shines brightest when it fuses these traditional flavours with the underlying intensity of its rhythmic beats
Wooden Arms’ sound relies heavily on classical influences, and there’s piano and string melodies here that catch you off guard with their subtlety and depth. The slow intricacy of later tracks like ‘Movie Stall’ could belong comfortably within Britain’s contemporary folk scene if taken in isolation. But the album shines brightest when it fuses these traditional flavours with the underlying intensity of its rhythmic beats, most impressively in the cinematic ‘Cole Porter’.
The line between styles is trodden carefully, with the unifying factor Carson’s uplifting, though mournful vocals. They disguise their electronic influences more so than bands like Submotion Orchestra, and although the beat that kicks in on ‘Lost in Your Own Home’ has a hint of alt-J about it, there’s little melodrama here.
This album is a testament to experimentation, and points to a future you’ll want to watch.
Lauren Laverne has declared herself a fan of Wooden Arms, and their singles have received airplay from a number of other BBC 6Music DJs. In their jazzier moments, they stray into the territory of acclaimed renegades like GoGo Penguin and BadBadNotGood, whose fans will find much to like here regardless.
Towards the end, I’m left wanting to hear the group push just that little further from their classical roots, but, hey – they have time left for that. This album is a testament to experimentation, and points to a future you’ll want to watch.