Alt-rock icon Josephine Wiggs is best known as bassist in The Breeders, rising to superstardom in the '90s and continuing to draw crowds and critical acclaim in the wake of their 2018 album 'All Nerve'.
But over the years, Wiggs has released several of her own albums, all of which delightfully defy genre. Her new solo record, 'We Fall', is both a departure and a distillation of an enduring personal aesthetic: moody and spare but also melodic, at once contemporary and nostalgic.
Some influences are clear: We Fall is reminiscent of the experimentalism of Brian Eno’s Another Green World and recalls the delicate, languid minimalism of Harold Budd. The album’s classical inflections, sharpened by a dialog with electronic elements, evoke Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto. This is an album of juxtapositions: minimalist at moments, richly layered in others; ambient while also sharply focused; melancholy yet resolute.
There's something both dreamy and scientific about We Fall. Wiggs, an enthusiastic amateur mycologist, has an impressive collection of mushrooms she’s photographed in her travels. We Fall could be the soundtrack to what can’t be captured in a single photo—the growth and decay of miraculous creatures that a less astute and sensitive eye might overlook entirely.
Composed, performed and recorded by Wiggs, with drums and electronics by her longtime friend and collaborator Jon Mattock (Spacemen 3, Spirit , 'We Fall' is a lyrical, bucolic album with an undercurrent of disquiet. Think of a wintertime walk in the woods as dusk falls too soon. True to the classic album form, the 10 almost entirely instrumental tracks on 'We Fall' form a compelling whole: a crystalline meditation on paths not taken and words unspoken, an elegy for moments lost and last embraces.
Josephine Wiggs grew up in an unconventional family north of London. Returning home from a summer holiday with a donkey riding in the back of the family’s 1927 Rolls Royce was not considered at all bizarre. Wiggs studied cello as a child, segued from college in London to undertake a master’s degree in Philosophy, and then, in a move few would have predicted, joined a rock band.
After making three albums with The Perfect Disaster (1987-1990), Wiggs left to join Kim Deal (Pixies), Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses), and Britt Walford (Slint) in forming indie supergroup The Breeders, whose debut album Pod came out in 1990. Following a shift in line-up—with Kelley Deal on guitar and new drummer Jim Macpherson—The Breeders released Last Splash in 1993; with its hit single “Cannonball” and “Divine Hammer,” they became alternative rock superstars.
During the same period, Wiggs released two lower-key albums with Jon Mattock (Spacemen 3, Spiritualized): Nude Nudes (1992) under the name Honey Tongue, and Bon Bon Lifestyle (1996) using the moniker The Josephine Wiggs Experience. She also recorded and produced Klassics with a K (1996), the beloved and only album by the Kostars (Luscious Jackson’s Jill Cunniff and Vivian Trimble). During a brief run of shows, Wiggs joined the band on drums, showing her range of musical ability.
In the late '90s Wiggs collaborated with Vivian Trimble as Dusty Trails, whose eponymous 2000 album is an homage to neo-noir soundtracks, spaghetti westerns, and Gallic pop. Time Out described it as “one of the most subtly suggestive, understatedly elegant…things likely to have caressed your cochlea in years.”
Allusions in Dusty Trails to film music foreshadowed the next stage of Wiggs’s career, writing scores for feature and documentary films—from Happy Accidents by Brad Anderson in 1999 to Appropriate Behaviour by Desiree Akhavan in 2014. Her new album We Fall began as a suite of short pieces for the documentary film Built on Narrow Land. Wiggs has also composed and recorded music to accompany live performance and short films by the acclaimed Brazilian choreographers chameckilerner.
In 2013, following the 20th anniversary of 'Last Splash', the classic lineup of The Breeders reunited for a world tour. Five years later in 2018 they released 'All Nerve', with Wiggs co-writing two songs and singing lead on the standout track “Metagoth.”
'We Fall' is Josephine Wiggs’ third album of her own design and ninth album in a career spanning three decades.
1. 37 Words
2. Slipping Through the Cracks
3. We Fall
4. In a Yellow Wood
5. Loveliest of Trees
6. Turn to Moss
7. The Weeping of the Rain
8. Time Does Not Bring Relief
9. The Soft Stars That Shine
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