Saturday, December 15, 2012

Woob, "Have Landed"

The first Woob album, "Woob 1194" remains a masterpiece of ambient music and one of my ten favourite albums of the 1990's.  After countless listens, I can still be shocked and surprised by its endless twists and mood changes.  Woob's "comeback" album, "Repurpose", contained a mixture of new and reworked older material, and although the new recordings didn't reach the high standards set by his best 90's output, they were plenty good enough to satisfy curiosity seekers that Woob still had "it" after all this time.  After seventeen dormant years, coming back and sounding like a perfectly acceptable version of yourself is a victory for fans and the artist.

That's why Woob's newest album is so disappointing.  I've listened to this album a bunch of times, trying to figure out who or what this version of Woob is supposed to be, or for whom this music was written for, and I'm no closer to figuring it out than I was after my first listen.  Most of "Have Landed" comes across as an audition reel for future soundtrack work.   Parts of "Space Therapy" and "Thieves" could be a the beginnings of a new ballet production, or perhaps his attempt at rewriting a "Lion King" musical.  "Finale" is a slice of ambient jazz for those who wished the Em:t label releases would have sounded more like Ninja Tune.  As to whether any such people existed in the 90's (or today), I have my doubts.

Woob isn't afraid to experiment on "Have Landed", and there are plenty of odd sounds and dramatic shifts in mood that one would expect from a Woob album.  It's a breezy listen and seventy minutes tend to just fly by, but soundtracks usually aren't the main event, they're the background music that enhance the real action on the screen.  But there's no movie, and no action, which means that on its own, "Have Landed" is mostly forgettable once its over.  

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