Maze of Woods

Written by: LF on 06/04/2015 23:55:08

My own interest in Inventions can be traced back to my early infatuation with the electronic and piano-based works released by the ambient musician Matthew Cooper under his Eluvium moniker. Since the very moment it was announced that he was to cooperate with Mark Smith, guitarist of the famous post-rock band Explosions In The Sky, in a side-project under the new name of Inventions, I have been meaning to follow them closely. As it happens, the release of their self-titled debut album last year completely eluded me until now so here I am with "Maze of Woods", the second album from the experimental electronic super-duo.

It is first and foremost a record very befitting of its title as it is intricately composed and more than capable of calling forth notions of exploration and curiosity as it takes its listener on an immersive journey through slowly circling and maze-like musical structures. It does this while leaning more towards an ambient musical approach than towards the crescendos of post-rock or the huge clichéd movements of much cinematic music. Still, Inventions is of course a collaboration between a post-rock artist and an ambient, experimental one and the songwriting reflects this, as there is definitely a certain progression to the layered pieces on the album, not least in the dreamy "Springworlds" that does build to a climax before dissolving again although it does it in a very subtle way. As such, the album ends up paradoxically conveying a sense of firm direction that circles around itself – giving it a certain adventurous feel as it steadily moves ever forward like an eternally dawning realization that doesn't necessarily ever arrive.

The duo utilizes a variety of sounds on this album and the different tracks leave fairly different impressions although they are all built up in much the same way with layers of synths and strings combining to create a unified expression. A prominent feature is the use of wordless vocal melodies or humming that provides a haunting echo throughout the album, especially noteworthy on the slightly creepy standout track "Peregrine" that combines a steady piano motif with disturbing white noise and other electronic glitches before slowly gaining a more harmonious and warm sound. "A Wind From All Directions" provides one of the more vibrant moments of the record as it slowly builds a very rhythmic repetition of a crisp electronic motif into an already existing soundscape of operatic choir voices and background ambience which creates an almost impossibly huge room for the sounds to occupy.

Some tracks are more founded in regular rhythmic patterns, like "Wolfkids" or "Escapers", while others like the pulsating "Slow Breathing Circuit" or "Moanmusic" take a slightly more experimental and free-form approach with different layers that alternate and combine in several different ways through the tracks. All in all this makes for a fairly diverse album that I am still enjoying after several intense listens and I'd definitely recommend it to fans of the genre and of Cooper and Smith's other projects. Still, it doesn't make me swoon completely as the magic is definitely stronger in a few standout tracks than on the rest of the album. That being said, I will be sure to keep a better lookout for the duo's future releases as the combination of their talents is definitely an interesting one.

Download: Peregrine, A Wind From All Directions, Springworlds
For The Fans Of: Eluvium, Explosions In The Sky, Desertshore, Ben Frost

Release date 17.03.2015
Temporary Residence Ltd

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