Review: Glottalstop – Woodsmoke

Glottalstop - WoodsmokeWoodsmoke refuses to become, and clings to the corner of recollection as a half memory; an echo of event bouncing down synaptic corridors, distinctive in its sensory detail yet evading the trap of concrete context. I see the blurry image of an old wooden cart, rattling over cobbled road and complaining via the shrill whine of creaky wheels, evoked by a cello that evades actual notes just as the soundscape evades retrospective placement. Its whimpering vibrato squeals as a body scraped across the window of actualisation – a sound straining against the musicality and landscape that try to house it. The record is littered with these ghosts that come to haunt me, and as the first side of the LP rumbles toward closure (which feels like submerging my ears in two high-powered water jets), I hear a faint music trapped in the liquid to my right, too wispy and tuneless to satisfy by brain’s craving for meaning. It is a music of semi-sounds, and the tension prior to materialisation; the moment before shape and meaning click into place, with echoing objects floating in space like indeterminable jigsaw pieces.

Side 2 starts more frantic and now, albeit no fuller formed: snippets of cello and pops of process snapping at my ears like a swarm of hallucinatory flies, while an ugly ball of drone and tinfoil static starts to curl up in my stomach. Strings hang in the background as though they’re waiting to be beckoned forward but no such request comes, and instead the piece spirals into anti-logic. I am brought within kissing distance of epiphany – feedback collapses in my ears and sways as debris on tidal white noise, carrying me upward toward something, surely – and thus I feel deceived as the surface peels back to reveal a nonsense interior of pulleys and mechanisms, broken pipe organs, rubber gunk and hi-tech electronics. Woodsmoke is an anticipation, promising what it never plans to give, passing fragments and useless clues to me through the vents. And isn’t that what a glottalstop is in a sense? The deliberately open-ended utterance, eternally suspending meaning through the absence of that final letter?