Softwar & The Jewelled Antler Collective
Another day and another review for Angry Ape, this time it comes in the form of mysterious Californian quartet Softwar. I have to admit this was one of the most challenging CD's I've had to tackle so far. Softwar don't deal in conventional songs. In fact, the word song is probably the wrong term altogether. Combining folk music with drones, acoustic instruments, 60's psychedelia, Middle Eastern instrumentation and a love of recording in natural surroundings, Softwar's self-titled debut is challenging to say the least.
Further investigation revealed the four musicians are major players in the enigmatic Jewelled Antler Collective. A group of musicians whose initial aim was to explore drone, improv, field recordings and free-folk music and distribute the results on CD-R's. The music was often recorded live and spontaneously, but has since evolved into something much bigger. Groups like The Skygreen Leopards and Thuja (video) are all part of this collective and some of the music is now being distributed by some of the finest labels on the planet. Softwar's debut can be found on Digitalis, but it's not an album for those with a short attention span. It took more than a few listens for anyhting to register. I almost gave up trying to like it, but then something clicked and dleightful sounds started to trickle through, culminating in floods of enjoyment during last track "Prui".
It's experimental, improvised and frustrating at times. But Softwar are worth investigating for those interested in the whole New Weird America movement. Angry Ape is also hosting an mp3. You can also stream every track at Boomkat.