Hidden from the public eye, Woom is the collaboration between singer Sara Magenheimer and guitarist Eben Portnoy. On this debut album, they combine sweet Indie Pop like The Magnetic Fields with hard hitting experimental beats like tUnE-yArDs. The industrial and obscurity of instrumentation adds to the beautiful atmosphere Woom creates. With big beat drums and high pitched vocals, the energetic ambient instrumentation only captivates the duo's image.
My girlfriend purchased this album earlier this year from a record shop in the East Village of Manhattan, New York City. As with most people, she had not heard of the artist before and was inclined to purchase it for the costly sum of $1. Another reason was for the album title, which is the name of a music room her and myself used to attend before becoming one. She was unable to upload it because her laptop disk driver was bust shut (because she inserted a penny into it.. Don't ask) so now I own the CD, so I thought I'd review it because I actually like it.
'Backwards Beach' starts with very nice instrumentation and acoustic guitar work which has been well produced. The vocals are shared and sang together, male on the left, female on the right which sounds distorted with no other effects. It sounds gritty but clean with a simplistic beat. When everything is stripped back you hear a very basic beat, but the acoustic guitar, percussion and swaying electric guitar add a perfect sense of formality to the opening track, it's romantic and gives the listener an introduction to Woom's sound.
The following tracks follow suit, with 'The Hunt' being a pop track with soft vocals and samples of vocal noises which adds to the experimental mood. Guitar work is distorted and so is the drumming. The synthesizer used for the bass is poppy and sounds fun, it's basic but the whole sound works together well. 'Back In' has a very simple structure with great guitar work and layers of vocals. The percussion is noted here as it vibrates and shimmers around your head when heard with ear/headphones. It doesn't exactly improve s it progresses, but then again this is far more experimental than say a Deerhunter song, which tends to have an explosion towards the end and finale of noise. This is very relaxed and is instantly enjoyable for the listener, like with the track 'Ok' with it's soft vocals repeated the work "OK" in different forms of acceptance, backed by keys which sound raw and lo-fi, it's a very sweet inclusion on the album.
Acoustic guitar makes many appearances, as this is technically Indie-Pop i can understand why it has been used so much, it works well with the impressive selection of percussion and the lo-fi vocals, like with 'Sister' my favourite track on the album, which does reach a climax with a piano ending the track. 'Quetzalcoatl's Ship' follows with a hard hitting vocal attack which is just a joy. It's strengthened by it's loud drumming and superb sound textures.
The listener is exposed with quiet, Folk like vocals and night time, jungle-esque samples with the track 'Foggy Dew'. It's very dark and reminds me Phil Elverum's Mount Eerie, it has the same feel as the next track 'Under Muu'. This takes the Folk like vocal style from Foggy Dew and combines it with the beautiful, slow guitar work and cold imagery of a snowy winter morning. 'Salt' is delicate and the vocals are easy to hear, nothing is rapid or too fast paced. The percussion sounds great and so does the electric guitar heard parallel to the piano.
We finally hear the last track, 'Judith'. The distorted piano is a key feature, so is the laid back percussion work. Everything slows down for a relaxed ending to the album, but it's not like the album actually took off in the first place. it ends with a single noted synthesizer and some dark, eerie atmosphere to close it off.
This album has some strong songs, The Hunt, Sister and Backwards Beach are instant favourites to the listener. They're clearly the songs with greater structure and faster rhythms. Like I said, this isn't well known and it hasn't been advertised to the masses so I don't expect many people to actually read this review. Saying that, Woom have room for improvement, the sparse sound may be well received but it doesn't stick in the mind.