PATRICK WOLF The Bachelor (Bloody Chamber)
What was meant to be a double disc album titled Battle has become two separate offerings by Patrick Wolf, a 25 year old, English singer songwriter and multi talented musician playing the harp, clavinet, harpsichord, guitar, piano, autoharp, organ, mountain dulcimer, clavichord, harmonium, accordion, theremin, ukulele, spoons, harmonica, mandolin, viola, and violin, among others. He has decided to release his epic musical cum rock, techno, electronic, indie, celtic themed opera storyline with The Bachelor (to be released on June 1 2009) and The Conqueror (to be released in 2010). Wolf had gained international success with his previous album, The Magic Position (2007).
The Bachelor boasts of 14 artistically refined tracks which span from the cinematic promise of Middle Earth’s landscape, the futuristic beats and electric disco sensations of a psychedelic space age, to the gothic musings of a lonely drifter, who can easily be substituted for a modern day teenager. The album, originally conceived with political themes shifted focus to the depression experienced by Wolf while on tour. However, before entering the studio, he fell in love, changing the direction of the album again, and eventually providing enough material for two releases.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make out of this album when I caught a glimpse of the cover and of the titles of the tracks listed. But once the first track Kriespiel began, the 47 second intro set the tone for the amazing narrative that started to unfold. Again, this is in every way a soundtrack album for me. I don’t know how else to describe the beautiful eastern ethnic strings of the Sitar, complementing the clear and manifesting voice of Tilda Swinton (the actress) echoing Wolf’s deep, passionate and melodious pleas on the 12th track: Theseus. Swinton is featured as the “voice of hope”, the narrator on four tracks of the album. Wolf’s list of collaborations on the album also include, Alec Empire from Atari Teenage Rioter, electronic maestro Matthew Herbert, folkie Eliza Carthy and classical musician Thomas Bloch.
The first single of the album, Vulture opens with a snazzy feel of the post-disco, retro eighties hook and I’m already sold. Again, this is a one off in the genre pool explored throughout the album – because it immediately follows with the stirrings of a soft, piano ballad of Blackdown, building up slowly and beautifully with claps, drums, violins and winds down again with the lonely notes of the piano.
The Bachelor is an ambitious, complex yet sophisticated presentation of an amazing musical and narrative journey. I have to say that I was impressed with this album. Wolf’s music is perhaps best described in Tilda Swinton’s words in relation to working with him on this album – “His music feels like the unexpressed soundtrack of a great film I want to see — and try to catch every night before I go to sleep. It’s a lovely thing to be a part of that magical landscape.”
This is one artiste and the first of two albums to look out for if you enjoy musical storytelling and fantasy laden escapades with an assortment of genres all packed in one amazing production.
Check out Wolf’s Myspace page