I clearly remember my first meeting with Voice of the Seven Woods. It came from reading a review of VOTSW?s first single release on Twisted Nerve and it read thus: "Pentangular acidic folk polymath fuses Turkish psych and Krautrock influences." Plus, I loved the name -- which is from a book of poetry from 1904 -- and perhaps more significantly, a pressing plant deadline, as Rick Tomlinson aka VOTSW has recently disclosed. Well, with an introduction like that I thought I?d take my chances. I tried in vain to order the EP but it was sold out. I managed to locate one in San Francisco believe it or not, which is quite a distance from the Yorkshire/Lancashire borders where I live. From then I was hooked.
VOTSW is responsible for furthering my musical tastes and opening my musical mind. VOTSW has challenged me to really listen to the most obscure psych/acid/folk/drone/experimental music and I thank him for that. In a music scene clamouring for originality and vitality, often on the verge of commercial implosion, asking us to buy music of bottomless mediocrity and banality, VOTSW is truly a challenge-envigorating, captivating and essential, all with added artistry, passion and depth.
Rick has been a regular on the Manchester alternative music scene, is involved with the B-Music collective and is a close friend of Twisted Nerve label boss Andy Votel. I understand Rick is a self taught musician and one who draws his influence from an oblique archive of obscure LP?s and whose sounds are often forged from bizarre instruments. In his music one can plainly discern Indian, Turkish, Kraut, psych, tropicalia, acid folk and Welsh progressive rock influences. This disk was very eagerly awaited!
This is VOTSW first unlimited release and from the beginning the vibe is a blend of eastern psychadelica and progressive folk. Track three finds the direction changing to a B-Music sixties style trance. VOTSW demonstrates that the acoustic and electric poles are complimentary, no exclusive and this is redolent throughout. On "Silver Morning Branches," we get the obvious (and what must be at times annoying) comparison with Nick Drake-emotive guitar and voice driven. Yet it is precisely at this juncture that VOTSW steps out of the comparisons and name checks-the album is varied, individual and truly unique-it defies capture in hyperbole and adjective. Brilliance is brilliance and must be applauded as such.
What is truly refreshing about this debut album is the way that Tomlinson keeps the listener enraptured and captivated by surprise turns and thus defies description. The whole feeling is reminiscient of artists like Prince or Brian Setzer for example-taking a genre, updating, expanding and living it yet truly filling it with passion and energy. This is what makes it so urgent and vital-we do not know what he will come up with next.
Finally, for me, it is a very human and spiritual album, enticing the listener to journey into the mystical, to enjoy the performance as much as the artist obviously does. The production is crisp and clear yet it would not sit out of place in a late 60?s music emporium. The whole sound is ?like everyone and no-one?, and as VOTSW ?does not like to stand still,? we can expect to be hearing a lot more from him in the not too distant future.
VOTSW requires no comparisons. VOTSW has no alter ego. Ash Ra temple dweller he might be, yet the Spirit of Green lives on. Rejoice! 9/10 -- Seamus Nash (22 August, 2007)