On her new LP, the English folktronica auteur discovers Loops in the Secret Society
Instrumental music of the cosmic variety doesn’t always create a lingering impression. Truth be told it’s sometimes served best when it’s a soundtrack for a lysergic journey, accompanying mediation or used as relaxation music in rehab. The fact is, it’s often best when it’s background music, either to add mood and mayhem to a sci-fi soundtrack or simply to create a psychedelic set-up in a trendy club where everyone who considers themselves hip feels they have to be seen.
Shelf life, it seems, isn’t always a prime consideration.
That said, credit English auteur Jane Weaver with building a career based on the genre known as folktronica, best defined as an odd blend of ambiance and introspection. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t exactly qualify as music of the sing along variety.
Still, that’s not a death knell or anything like it. Tangerine Dream, Can, Hawkwind and even Pink Floyd had a propensity creating a similar sort of cosmic cacophony, and their fortunes flourished as a result. Ok, so many off these bands didn’t exactly race to the top of the charts, but their ability to entice a devoted cult following ensured their inclusion in the annals of the obtuse and off kilter. The Floyd, of course, realized that some concession to commerciality was necessary to ensure their evolution, but the others used experimentation to create a niche all its own.
Weaver’s plied her craft nearly two dozen years ago, defining herself as an experimental artist solely preoccupied with ethereal atmospherics, loops, rhythms and technology. She started early on, while still immersed in her university studies, before going on to form several experimental ensembles. She been out on her own for the past two decades, immersed in the frenzy and fascination derived from her sensual soundscapes. With Loops in the Secret Society, Weaver continues to plough that same path, and if the melodies take some time to fully digest, the immediate effect is as mesmerizing as always. Synths take prime focus once again, but Weaver’s lithe vocals — especially on songs such as “Arrows” and “Mission Desire ” — bring some measure of charm and comfort. In truth, many of the tracks seem to lie dormant, momentary melodies that barely meander, much less pick up any pace. However, certain offerings do create tension from their otherworldly effects. “H>A>K” and “Ravenspoint” are prime examples, each underscored by a pulsating throb that adds tone and tension. Likewise, the lithe pluck and strum of “Margins” accompany the most pronounced vocals Weaver offers throughout the entire record, making this entry a real standout and sheer delight.
Ultimately then, Loops in the Secret Society is as ambiguous as its title implies, an album best considered as mood music for those in certain mindset. With 22 tracks, this double disc takes a concerted listen as well. Still, credit Weaver with her commitment to experimentation and single-minded devotion to a sound that lingers in astral realms. As for the earthbound among us, prepare for an intriguing takeoff.