Fans of the North West’s premier retro-futurist songstress’s sleeper hit ‘The Silver Globe’ will find much to enjoy on her latest release, ‘Modern Kosmology’, a record that sustains her shimmering vision of a modern, hauntological psychedelia encrusted with fragments of freak-folk, kosmische and electronica.
The Jane Weaver story is a cheering testament to persistence and faith in one’s talent; having traded for a quarter of a century as a member of Kill Laura, Misty Dixon and then as a folk singer-songwriter in her own right, her rightly acclaimed, canonical 2014 release, ‘The Silver Globe’, whisked her away from the margins and realigned her at the forefront of the contemporary, progressive pop firmament. Here was an immaculate, magnetic collection of deftly honed retro-futurist songs that drifted elegantly and dreamily between krautrock, psychedelia, synth-pop, hurdy-gurdy folk, library music and European arthouse soundtracks.
Her new album, ‘Modern Kosmology’, represents Weaver’s most fully realised, focused dissemination of this cultish, off-kilter aesthetic, a soothing, interstellar carnival of outer-space electronica, icy vocals, cosmic folk and melodic heft that’s both enveloping and vibrant. Inspired by the likes of Broadcast and the venerated Ghost Box label, there’s been a slew of artists plugging away at kosmische pulses, airy melodies and analogue electronics of late, but Weaver operates on a rarefied plane, fabricating music that brims with out-of-time shivers and locates a mercurial robo-precision in its tension between rhythm, atmosphere and harmony.
The singer’s slinky, cut-glass whispers lend a gleaming, eddying potency to the opening, jet-propelled motorik chug of ‘H>A>K’, a breathless groove that references the shape-shifting, ahead-of-her-time Swedish abstract painter Hilma af Klint whilst establishing the musical theme of forward motion and pulsating texture. ‘Did You See Butterflies?’ is an intoxicating, Stereolab-flecked outing that’s executed with a widescreen yearning, as if drifting through space.
The title track, a gorgeous cosmic waltz, favours wobbly future-bliss melody and an ethereal giddiness, whilst lead single ‘Slow Motion’, marries some pretty keyboard progressions to the nagging hook of a gorgeously woozy reverie; the result is an intensely addictive pop song that could be a bona fide chart hit.
‘The Architect’ offers loping beats and whooshing synths that bring to mind Portishead’s third album and ‘Loops In The Secret Society’ evokes swathes of Velvet Underground circa ‘White Light, White Heat’. Two sinister lullabies, ‘Valley’ and ‘Ravenspoint’, smoulder with the kind of eerie, folk-horror unease we associate with ‘The Wicker Man’, followed by the concluding, wistful krautrock rush of ‘I Wish’. On all these tracks, Weaver exhibits a gift for balancing heady experimentation with spine-tingling, beautiful tunes.
‘On ‘Modern Kosmology’, its author has marshalled her diverse influences into a discreet whirl of parts where every feature feels considered and necessary: a unique, idiosyncratic sound that’s marked by a myriad magic moments.