Jane Weaver’s startling new LP Modern Kosmology is a thing of reflective, fractal beauty – heavy with feeling and glimmering off every shining corner: a beacon through the past and into the future. At heart, Modern Kosmology is a folk record – it talks of feelings, relationships, journeys, connections. But in setting this alongside such strident and forward-thinking psychedelic sonic concoctions that bend and twist in the wind before suddenly soaring, it effortlessly and elegantly drives into its own evolution.
The influences on the record are myriad, though sprinkled so delicately and carefully that the combination becomes unique in scope and delivery. Opener ‘H>A>K’ recalls Third-era Portishead – rolling and darting around a growing Moog pulse and galloping drums. ‘Did You See Butterflies?’ marries together Stereolab, Lush and tinges of Wish You Were Here Pink Floyd. And in ‘The Architect’, Weaver concocts an immediate classic of shuddering, muscular beauty – pulsing with energy, stirring like a sea, probing and searching your senses.
As the record unfolds, perhaps the most striking and engaging aspect of Modern Kosmology is just how varied and innovative it manages to be, without ever seeming disjointed. The lapping (though somewhat discordant) West Coast guitars of ‘Loops in the Secret Society’ manage to dovetail compatibly and coherently with the synthetic throb of ‘Slow Motion’, while the analogue chug of ‘Valley’ and the kaleidoscopic psychedelic furrows of ‘Ravenspoint’ seem almost to be the dream and nightmare of the same story, culminating in a sombre chime that “we are on our way to dust”, aping the unsettling vocal conclusion to Love’s ‘The Red Telephone’, delivered by former Can frontman Malcolm Mooney. Nothing seems out of place and nothing seems forced– the tones and disparate themes dovetail perfectly together into a sound that is engaging, endearing, though all of this skating on a thin ice with the possibility of darker waters below. For every chime, there is a rumble. For every shimmer of prettiness, a contrasting note of caution.
Yet at heart, so much of the record revolves around characters and stories. In the true folk tradition, Weaver creates worlds and muses on issues of love and of loss; of life and of death. Piercing and determined, her voice grabs and demands attention, yet is also happy to settle back and let the music flow when the time requires it. Combined with the sheer variation and intelligence of the music, it is a genuinely intoxicating experience. Modern Kosmology is an album that rewards repeated listens; an album that connects more with each repeated venture into its lush, engaging world. Jane Weaver has created a record of adventure and beauty that pushes the envelope and opens up the listener to so many different avenues. Engaging and fulfilling, it stands out as one of the most unique and confident records of Weaver’s career so far, with the nagging and thrilling feeling that so much more is waiting to emerge given the scope of her talents.