A study in contrasts, Rivers finds Wildbirds & Peacedrums exploring the conceptual possibilities of their approach. Once again, Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin limit themselves to voice and percussion, but this album -- which combines the limited-edition EPs Retina and Iris -- features some of the duo’s most ambitious and fullest-sounding music. Wallentin and Werliin ventured to Iceland to record these songs, recording the expansive Retina in Guðríðarkirkja church with cellist and arranger Hildur Guðnadóttir and the Schola Cantorum Reykjavík Chamber Choir.
Pulsating and haunting, Wildbirds & Peacedrums’ third release—a double CD of previous limited edition EPs, Retina and Iris—remains true to the duo’s sound. The backing vocals of a choir on Retina add a layer to the effortlessly minimal sound for which the band is known. Iris brings Mariam Wallentin’s vocals to the foreground with fewer distractions, creating a more intimate atmosphere.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums are percussionist Andreas Werliin and vocalist Mariam Wallentin, a Swedish husband-and-wife duo that has produced about three LPs’ worth of material in the last three years. Their debut record, Heartcore, and its follow-up, The Snake, are eclectic, unbridled concoctions of various elements from jazz, soul, folk, and pop music traditions pared down to their barest bones. Arrestingly spare and clear, those albums explore every naked timbre and feel like full, deep breaths of fresh air in a musical environment where sonic obfuscation continues to be the order of the day.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums always seemed to be heading toward a concept album. Their first two LPs had thematic elements that, while not immediately held together, were loose reflections on the line between emotionality and reason. The music often followed suit the dichotomy set by the band's moniker, with two contrasting dispositions creating a balanced whole.
There’s not a whole lot of music to Wildbirds & Peacedrums, most of their songs are stripped down to a spare, wooden drum and some alternating synth plunks – but they’re always centered on one specific thing – Mariam Wallentin’s husky, near-shamanistic voice. The Gothenberg husband’n’wife duo maintain a strikingly distinct sound, especially considering they’ve only been active since 2006. Their latest long-player Rivers is naturally a sparse, dense work of mystical, naturalistic sounds and shining, almost pre-natalic textures.
Two EPs combine to make a single, beguiling long-player. David Sheppard 2010 The third album from Gothenburg’s connubial percussion and vocal duo Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin began life as two, 12” vinyl EPs released earlier this summer. Now spread over a brace of CDs – named Retina and Iris, respectively – Rivers is a fully-fledged album, echoing the EPs’ division between imposing, choir-enhanced songs (Retina) and haunting, steel drum-propelled essays (Iris), all of it themed around notions of reflection, light and water.