Heartcore by Wildbirds & Peacedrums
Formats: CD (BAY 61CD) Limited Edition Vinyl LP (BAY 61V) Digital (BAY 61E)
Release Date: 5 May 2008
Wildbirds & Peacedrums are charismatic singer Mariam Wallentin and drummer Andreas Werliin. Together the Swedish duo have forged an extraordinary hybrid of spiritual pop, primal blues and ecstatic soul music. Seesawing between pagan rhythms and sparse, bewitching ballads, their self-produced debut is a declaration of intent: immediate, exhilarating, and just plain new.
“I really felt that there was more to come out of the drum set, other sounds and feelings,” says Andreas, explaining the depth of emotion and dynamic rhythmic palette that colours the duo’s expressive music. Having met at the Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg in 2004, where Mariam enrolled in vocal improv and Andreas in percussion, both were frustrated by the institution’s rigid format. “I was so fed up at the way music was played at the University - music judged only upon level and virtuosity,” says Andreas. “It just felt wrong.”
Wildbirds & Peacedrums was born of a desire to break free and return to music that captures pure feeling. “We had no musical ideals to trust or lean on, so we had just to really believe in ourselves and each other, and it was much easier actually. To get that heavy blanket of history and knowledge off your shoulders was the best musical experience of our lives.”
It comes as no surprise, given their obvious musical chemistry, that the duo were married soon after they began performing in the summer of 2005, during a holiday spell in Berlin.
“We always start with the lyrics that Mariam writes, then try to find one or two elements to fit around them - it can be a rhythm or a sound and then we go from there. For me it is such a release to write music this way - with Mariam’s voice, I don’t need to cover it up with a lot of other stuff - I can just play a simple rhythm and rely on the space/silence. We keep a lot of space in the recordings and somehow it seems that people fill in the rest themselves – an old jazz listener hears horns and basslines and a punk hears smashed guitars!”
After hand-sewing fabric covers for two limited edition CDRs, the duo recorded their debut album Heartcore in Gothenberg in the summer of 2006. They used a mobile studio, allowing for a variety of intimate spaces with different acoustical elements. Having never used any of the equipment before, Mariam and Andreas were forced to keep the recording as spare and live as possible, using just vocals and drums, with a handful of additional instruments like glockenspiel and zither.
“We tried to rely on the energy we create on stage. It was so hard to know what the result was going to be like because we had no references or ideal - we just tried to record as we played the music live at that time. We had just the feeling and goal of trying to capture some honest and intense musical state of mind.”
Mariam’s uninhibited, skin-prickling vocal expressions invoke vintage blues performers like Bessie Smith through to the spookily evocative folk singing of Mary Margaret O’Hara. With a fiery passion all her own that encompasses moods from the heavy spiritual lament of ‘I Can’t Tell in his Eyes’ to the raw gospel exclamation of ‘Bird’ with just pulsing bass drums accompanying Mariam’s ululations, to the rock & roll handclaps, crash, bang and wallop crescendo of ‘Doubt/Hope’, she is a mercurial talent with a breathtaking emotional depth.
Indeed, Heartcore could not be a more apt album title. Largely stripped bare with only the most potent, select sounds remaining behind Mariam’s transporting voice, the effect is luscious, enveloping and mesmerising.
Heartcore was originally released in Sweden in 2007 on Found You Recordings, now licensed for worldwide release by The Leaf Label.
“Something to be treasured” 4/5 Observer Music Monthly
“The overall effect, simultaneously primal and flirting with the avant garde, is utterly bewitching, landing somewhere between pagan blues and skeletal, experimental soul” Independent
“Great natural pop” NME
“a weird and wild yet transfixingly beautiful debut” 5/6 Time Out
“as bold and imaginative a debut you’ll hear all year, from a duo whose unified talent and staggering virtuosity marks out a very bright future indeed” 8/10 Drowned In Sound
“Absolutely stunning” The Fly
“It’s no overstatement to say their self produced debut, Heartcore, is something of a minor masterpiece!” The Stool Pigeon
“It rocks!... If you’re looking for passionate freshness, ‘Heartcore’ is where it’s at” Artrocker
“Imagine Björk's Debut seriously fiending for a rhythm fix.” Pitchfork
“Weird, wonky, wired - part Camille, part PJ Harvey, part Scout Niblett - ALL brilliant!” Subba-Cultcha
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12. We Hold Each Other Song REVIEWS
Observer Music Monthly
Time Out OTHER
Found You Recordings