Jane Weaver’s Modern Kosmology

Jane Weaver                                                       Hare & Hounds, Birmingham,  18th May 

Jane Weaver is launching her impressive new record with a sold out show at The Hare. It’s her first for a while and she apologises unnecessarily for any mistakes (there don’t appear to be any) and for using idiot sheets for lyrics (she hardly looks at them). It’s busy in here, there are a number of elephants in the room – possibly not enough to rival the ones hindu cosmology has holding up the earth, but I’ve not conducted a full trunk count. First off – launching her impressive new record with a sold out show at The Hare is probably something Jane Weaver, only lately starting to see some success for a lengthy career in music is probably fairly happy about. For us though, she’s playing the small room, and surely she’s not only good, but popular, enough to move to the bigger one? These things can be hard to judge but it’s really getting rubbed in tonight by the fact the bigger room is hosting a parcel of braying youth indulging in gypsy jazz covers of Rage Against The Machine and other unspeakable crimes against taste, music, and our better natures. What we can say is that Modern Kosmology is a record of sufficient greatness and broad appeal it really should propel her to the next level. The biggest of the elephants in the room is painted orange and has groovy yellow lettering that reads ‘Space Age Batchelor Pad Music’ because yeah, it does sound quite a lot like Stereolab. Particularly in the first half of the album/set tonight. This is not a bad thing, and not a derivative or cheap thing. It’s like the bits of the recipe that didn’t make it into Caverns of Anti-Matter – bright retro organ sounds and gorgeous female vocals mostly – and most assuredly pressed into the service of an individual voice. Which brings us to the most looming of the herd – ‘Why is she wearing that absurd bacofoil shrug thing?’ My best guess is – um, space rock or something. It’s not stylish, it’s not comfortable, practical or becoming. It only lasts about three or four songs before she disposes of it joking “the things I do for you people”. We’re good Jane, really. It’s a little concession to showbiz but it also pinpoints a contradiction or duality. It’s there in the contrast of her singing and speaking voices as well. Her love for Hawkwind and the various musical nods to Kosmiche aside Weaver’s songs are more ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ than  ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, emotional and pastoral in feel there’s a peculiarly English quality in there that’s hard to pin down too. It feels like a warm day walking in the woods more than a wild trip through inner/outer space is what I’m saying. And that’s all to the good. Her synth, as if to prove the point, is called Gaia. Still a lot of psych folk in there I guess but the songs are not as twee as a title like ‘Did You See Butterflies?’ might suggest. There’s a point where the wheels almost come off and the groove curdles to a dull chug but it’s reassuringly brief, a not quite perfected ending to a song. It’s instantly forgotten as she straps on a guitar for the lovely, Velvety ‘Loops In The Secret Society’ kicking things up a notch and running into kraut-disco banger ‘The Architect’ and the lovely, swooning ‘The Lightning Back’. She makes the curious choice of ending on ‘Ravenspoint’ a circling, folky dirge enlivened on the album by the voice of Can’s Malcolm Mooney intoning thoughtfully about how we are all journeying to dust. It seems possible a tape of his vocal failed to play because without it, it doesn’t really work, even with it it’s hardly a showstopping flourish. Those are saved for the encores – a fantastic double punch of ‘I Need A Connection’ and ‘Don’t Take My Soul’, what an amazing, swooningly off kilter thing of pure pop joy it is.

 

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