Woods - Perennial
Formed in Brooklyn in 2004, Woods have matured into a true independent institution, above and below the root, reliably emerging every few years with new music that grows towards the latest sky. Operating the Woodsist label since 2006 and curating the beloved homespun Woodsist Festival for the musical universe they’ve built, Perennial is the sound of a band on the edge of their 20th anniversary and still finding bold new ways to sound like (and challenge) themselves.
Perennial grew from a bed of guitar/keyboard/drum loops by Woods head-in-chief Jeremy Earl, a form of winter night meditation that evolved into an unexplored mode of collaborative songwriting. With Earl’s starting points, he and bandmates Jarvis Taveniere and John Andrews convened, first at Earl’s house in New York, then at Panoramic House studio in Stinson Beach, California, site of sessions for 2020’s Strange To Explain. With a view of the sparkling Pacific and tape rolling, they began to build, jamming over the loops, switching instruments, and developing a few dozen building blocks.
The album’s resulting 11 songs, 4 of them instrumental, are in the classic Woods mode--shimmering, familiar, fractionally unsettling--but with the half-invisible infinity boxes of Earl’s loops burbling beneath each like a mysterious underground source. From source to seed to bloom, each loop unfolds into something unpredictable, from the jeweled pop of the aching “Little Black Flowers” to the ecstatic starlit freak-beat of “Another Side.” They are blossomings both far-out and comforting, like the Mellotronic cloud-hopping of “Between the Past,” or sometimes just plain comforting, like the widescreen snowglobe fantasia of the instrumental “White Winter Melody,” touched by Connor Gallaher’s pedal steel.
Woods have long used the studio as a place of songwriting, naming 2007’s At Rear House after their shared dwelling and recording space. But Perennial also carries with it an even longer view of Woods. Emerging from the process alongside the music was Earl’s reflection that “perennial plants and flowers are nature’s loops,” an idea rolling under the album’s lyrics like the loops themselves. It certainly applies to the band, too, who have quietly tended to a long, committed project of being a band in the weird-ass 21st century, both individually and communally. Though separated by coasts, the communal sprit carries through Earl, Taveniere, and Andrews’ collaboration, a living embodiment of the freedoms rediscovered every time a new collectively created piece of music emerges.
For nearly two decades, Woods have survived subgenres, anchored in the fertile soil below hashtags like lo-fi and freak-folk and psychedelic and indie, and built a shared history that’s something to marvel at. As the flagship band for Woodsist, they’ve accumulated a striking extended family of collaborators (and Woods alum) that have made the label one of the most dependable imprints in the kaleidoscopic low-key underground. It’s a glow that’s transferred whole to the blissed-out Woodsist Fests held in Accord, New York in recent years, which have folded in a wide range of diverse sounds, from the the jazz cosmoverse of the Sun Ra Arkestra and adventurous legends Yo La Tengo, to a hard-to-even-count family tree of contemporaries, like Kevin Morby (who served a few tours of duty as Woods bassist) and Kurt Vile (who released his 2009 debut on Woodsist), a living community in sound.
Perennial carries all of this, shaped by decades, but made in the moment, and here right now. The smell of the flowers doesn’t remain, but sometimes the flowers do.
Recorded and mixed by Jarvis Taveniere at Panoramic House in Stinson Beach, CA with additional recording at The Ship in Los Angeles, CA and Cottekill Bird Sanctuary in Stone Ridge, NY. Produced by Jarvis Taveniere and Jeremy Earl. Mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic Mastering in Portland, OR.
Jeremy Earl - vocals, guitars, drums, percussion, sk-5, mellotron, vibraphone, autoharp, loops
Jarvis Taveniere - guitar, bass, upright bass, hammond, vocals
John Andrews - piano, organs, mellotron, drums, vocals
Connor Gallaher - Pedal Steel
Kyle Forester - sax, wurlitzer
Release Date: 15th September 2023
Format: LP or CD
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