Sometimes it takes me a few listens before I can decide if something is going to click or not with me and The Woods initially was one of those artists. His music is on one hand super chilled out like Alt-J and Beck in a zen garden, but then he usually adds an experimental layer to his music too. I had to spend time listening to how the experimental layers would transform a track from something hazy and breezy into something I could join forces with.
‘Night Silk Threads’ kicks of this experimental electronic soul vibe with ‘Stand Down’. It’s gentle guitar melodies are quickly drowned out with heavy synths and chopped up noises. The juxtaposition of this versus the absolutely beautiful vocal layering takes a while to get used to. ‘Greater Than the Parts’ takes that vocal layering and sends it spinning over glitchy beats and quirky tuned percussion. In the opening track, we had Chinese zithers, here we have muted Asian bells then in ‘Armchair Expert’ we have samples of the koto. I love how in a blissed-out soulful jazz-tinged track we have no idea what instrument will be hitting us next. It’s like SOHN has gone fully experimental after taking a year out travelling to find himself.
Some of the experimental things don’t quite work for me personally. The awkward way the beats don’t quite line up on the title track takes away from the most accessible track for newcomers to The Woods. It also feels sometimes that the mastering places instruments occasionally battling against each other as there’s so much going on. ‘Starstruck’ is what would happen if you took an 80’s casio keyboard’s tempo beat and gave it to a soul band. It’s lush vocal performance and glistening electric piano has a tinny heartbeat pulse behind it and I can’t decide if I like it or not. It’s funny because a lot of what irks me on these two tracks utterly makes ‘Beat A Retreat’ work perfectly. It is Bibio-esque electronica grounded in analogue instruments and soft synths. It’s weird and beautiful – much like this EP and part of the fun is deciding how you feel about it.
I’ve had a real journey with The Woods and this EP. I was equally drawn to and annoyed with its experimental flair but with each listen I’ve begun to truly appreciate exactly where it was all going. That’s why my recommendation is to listen to ‘Night Silk Threads’ twice. You’ll feel much safer with it the second time around and you’ll know to listen to it when your minds open to it. Quirky soul is definitely something I’m here for thanks to The Woods.
Recommended track: Armchair Expert
If you like what I do, and would like to help me make better and more content then please consider supporting me via Patreon. Thank you.
If you have this release, you can comment with your own score below.