Howden / Wakeford – Wormwood

Matt Howden has left Sol Invictus to concentrate more on his solo work, in particular his project Sieben. Luckily this does not mean that he won’t work with Tony Wakeford anymore. As Howden/Wakeford they continue to collaborate. This is their second album as a duo. The first Howden/Wakeford album “Three nine” had a numerological theme, in particular the third and ninth rune. The new album “Wormwood” deals with biblical themes and especially the Book of Revelation, quite apocalyptic and dark tales. Wormwood by the way is the active element in the infamous drink absinthe.

If you know the previous work of the two there are many well-known elements here, like the throbbing bass or the flowing violin. The song structures of Howden/Wakeford seem to be more freely, making an improvised impression, though the making of this album started already in 2001. In general this album sounds a bit more accessible than “Three Nine”. The music is mostly instrumental, there are only a few songs in which vocals play a significant part. Half of the songs were started by a bass line or lyrics by Wakeford, and the other half was initiated by violin pieces or texts from Howden. You can often tell who started which song: ‘The wormwood Season’ is led by a deep bass, wheras ‘The start is Wormwood’ is dominated by a free-flowing violin.

Overall I think it is a strong album, where Howden and Wakeford get the room to try out some more experimental compositions, while remaining pleasant to listen to. Besides the skilled instrument playing the dark, sometimes surreal lyrics are also noteworthy. ‘Thy mother’ is one my favourite songs, a very bare track with repetive elements, especially Tony’s vocals have a mantra-like effect. Excellent is ‘Brief as a Flower”, with powerful leading violin, dark deep basses and nice moody vocals by Matt. ‘Care Sunday’ starts with the sounding of church bells, before resulting in a rather cheerful ritual folk piece. ‘Under the moon’ is one the darker pieces, with martial drums, a melancholic violin and sinister sounds.

The final track ‘Wormwood Doll’ stands rather out from the rest, it is probably the ‘hit’ of the album. It has an irrestible melody, forcing you to hum along, and after a while you can’t help tapping your feet. The violin melody stays in your head for a while. The vocals are very pleasant to listen to, with lyrics about a woman ‘who was as barren as desert sands’. She met a magician with whose help she would bear a doll child…

THis cd is available only from the Tursa & Matt Howden websites and at concerts.

“And the third angel sounded
and there fell a great star
and the name of the star is wormwood’

artist: Howden / Wakeford
label: Tursa
details: 11 tracks. [tursa 031]