Wooden Arms, Junction, Cambridge, 11 Oct 2014

As the summer finally gave way to a mellow autumn Junction J2 was the venue for three musical performances of contemplation and experimentation. First on was Gaze is Ghost, singer-songwriter Laura McGarrigle from Strabane alone at an electric piano, with her plaintive voice and sensitive chords illustrating her songs of love and loss. The back projections of desolate seascapes and blurred light sources complemented the absorbing sounds.

After a short interval multi-instrumentalist and composer Tom Adams sang and played electric guitar. He augmented his songs using effects and guitar loops in the most imaginative way I had seen for a while, the patterns he set up twisting and turning and arriving in the mix when you least expected them. Even one of the control boxes seemed to have a life of its own and generate a chorus of sound when moved around. A multi-layered trumpet was used in the final song to create a rush like the wind blowing across the continuing background images.

Wooden Arms are from Norwich, touring to showcase their recently released album ‘Tide’. The six talented band members, led from the piano by main composer Alex Carson, play a variety of acoustic and electric instruments, violin, cello, trumpet, guitars and drums. All of the band sing and the resulting music produced has classical, ambient and folk influences with many fragile textures and subtleties. ‘Prelude’ opens the set, a repeating piano figure gradually joined by ethereal voices and strings. The pieces move at a gently flowing pace, vocals arrive and depart, sometimes the drums add fireworks, such as at the end of the evocative ‘December’. The album title track ‘Tide’ is a standout, a classical piece with a powerful build up of voice and instruments. New song ‘Burial’ brought the show to an end, yet somehow the haunting sounds of all three of the evening’s acts continued…



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