Nodding God - Play Wooden Child - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Nodding God - Play Wooden Child

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2019-05-10
Nodding God - Play Wooden Child
Nodding God - Play Wooden Child

A voice that sounds like the possessed girl from The Exorcist babbles in tongues (or possibly Klingon) as a nightmarish, electronic fever-dream bubbles underneath. The press release tells us that the music is powered by “Stars and Cuneiform and Pop”. I can tell you right now that Play Wooden Child, the debut album by Nodding God, is definitely not a pop record.

When you know that the album was made by David Tibet and Andrew Liles it all starts to make a twisted sort of sense. Tibet is best known as vocalist and lyricist for ongoing apocalyptic folk outfit Current 93 while Liles is a prolific, experimental multi-instrumentalist. Tibet and Liles have collaborated before, moving in similar musical circles.

Tibet has carved a particularly unique path over the years, creating apocalyptic worlds populated by cats, stars and Christian mysticism. He’s also pretty fond of a good collaboration having worked with (amongst many others) Nick Cave, Anohni (previously known as Antony Hegarty), Bjork and Shirley Collins.

Tibet’s last couple of releases outside of his work with C93 have produced some varied and impressive results. From the Hypnopazuzu project he created with Youth from Killing Joke to last year’s Mirror Emperor LP with Italian experimentalists Zu. Both are challenging yet a veritable walk in the park when held up next to Play Wooden Child.

After delivering perhaps the most nakedly beautiful Current 93 album in years, last years The Light is Leaving Us All, Tibet has taken Liles by the hand and jumped off the deep end. Whether you appreciate the following madness may depend on your views on avant-garde nutjobs, Nurse with Wound.

Both Tibet and Liles have worked extensively with NWW before and it’s arguably Steven Stapleton’s experimental and unpredictable project that provides the most helpful musical reference point here. It’s a pretty wild album yet, much like NWW, it’s done with a somewhat mischievous sense of fun.

The whole album is sung in Akkadian, an extinct language written in Cuneiform. According to Google cuneiform is “a system of writing first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia” You keeping up? Tibet’s lyrics can often be obscure and difficult to decipher. In a way, this just takes it to its logical conclusion.

The exact meaning of the 11 minutes that make up ‘Salamander Candy’ is perhaps unimportant next to how it sounds. It sounds like a slow yet devilishly satisfying descent into madness. A feeling of Lovecraftian cosmic-horror comes over you, the thin veil of reality falling away to reveal something strange and transportative. The sound you hear after staring into a black hole for a little too long.

The music is free of any conventional structure, no chorus or middle-eight to save us from the oncoming insanity. The relentless synth lines and electronic soundscapes occasionally recall Chris & Cosey before spiralling into something even more chaotic than before. A danceable rush of synths juxtaposed with an unsettling, effects-laden voice. A discombobulating demonic disco, if you will.

If you’re in the right headspace for it, Play Wooden Child is a rather fascinating and compelling esoteric oddity. Sure, it’s more than a little ridiculous but you get the feeling that Tibet and Liles are aware of this too. It’s certainly an acquired taste. However, if you’re in the mood for something bizarre, unsettling and unclassifiable then dive straight in. If it doesn’t baffle, confuse and frustrate you then, who knows, you might just find Play Wooden Child fun.

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