Jane Weaver


The house that Jane built is filled with mysteries and strange reversals, finds Richard Foster

This is a record that works by stealth. It’s possible that you can listen to Jane Weaver’s new LP, Flock, hum along, maybe break into a mild frug now and again whilst doing the dishes, and not suspect anything is wrong with the world. Only now and again do phrases like “smash the patriarchy” float into your consciousness through the gossamer patterns Weaver has created, to remind you that she really does mean business.

For some reason Jane Weaver reminds me of the late great Victoria Wood, another dealer in life lessons through stealth and wit. Like Wood, Weaver remains happy to draw up her spells in a space in-between, despite seeming clubbable enough. Too sharp to be part of a pack, Weaver has always set her stall out on the outer reaches of pop’s bonfire. This positioning, whether by luck or judgement, has meant her gaze has never been overly burnt or blinded by the industry’s unholy glare, and allows her music to maintain a wicked sense of perspective and lightness of touch. Given this, fully tuning into tracks such as ‘Lux’ and ‘Sunset Dreams’ and the glorious bopper, ‘Solarised’, is akin to cosplaying Little Gwyon: dipping your finger into the cauldron and gaining knowledge only brings the realisation that this is a much more dangerous, shifting, complex world.

Still: hidden mysteries of not, it’s impossible to be anything but charmed by this record. I have played it a good hundred times and still find myself sticking Flock on when I need something to start the day with. How one can remain stationary whilst listening to a boomtastic single like ‘The Revolution Of Super Visions’ or ‘Stages of Phases’ (a glam-pop version of the Archers theme tune, surely), is a mystery. Each track feels like a comforting and fruitful new prospect, as if Weaver is showing us round the Big House, leading us into a differently furnished room full of carefully chosen nick-nacks and features. And this house that Weaver has built is sturdy enough to allow tracks as different in spirit as the winsome ‘All The Things You Do’ and ‘Pyramid Schemes’ to nestle against the other without too much friction.

Jane Weaver has talked in riddles about this new music of hers: for instance ‘Heartlow’ was “written in hibernation in an out of season French coastal town surrounded by ancient stone circles and arthurian forests.” Of course a million artists attempt to say things like this to justify their work, especially in these times, when such descriptions and copy-pasted “wydrness” are as soulless as watching stocks of Bitcoin. But this is not the earnest, box-ticking cross-platform promotional talk of today. Jane Weaver means it; and it’s the sort of utterance one associates with the likes of Ithell Colquhoun 60 years earlier, looking for a fusion between the occult, Celtic religion and Surrealism.

Indeed, given her previous work and rich history of collaborations (from Coldplay to soundtracking Hungarian director Marcell Jankovics), Weaver’s own search for the true path up the mountain is a form of pop perennialism. And Flock is a Janus-faced LP, looking back at 60s girl groups, 90s grooves, 50s sound effects LPs and revisiting old tapes made whilst listening to Peelie under the covers. This album acts as a midwife, delivering the feeling of delight you get when listening to things that have been sat glumly in the back of the cabinet, or reassessing careworn memories given a good polish.

Is it a form of revivalism? Certainly, Flock could be a last petition from a fin de ligne about all that should have been good about the 1990s in Gross Britannia; looking back as a way of looking forward, of understanding creative time (and the creative times of others) is a huge and giving resource rather than something to be boxed up and given that terrible British Lion mark seal of ‘Mindie’ approval.

Flock is the 1990s as taped-from-the-TV versions of Naked and KLF vanity projects, the ticking beats of Trans-Europe and Trans-American compilations, Suede’s electric grimoire, Beta bandaids, The Family of God LP and the collective psyched-out idiocy on Ochre Records, Giant Steps from various switched on Scouse and Wool bands, Superfurry animism, Broadcast’s divinations into the underground currents of Eurofilm, Stereolab laying down their subliminal grooves akin to an amped-up Philip Sidney gig, and a Krautrocksampling Cope acting as underground cheerleader. Interesting, offbeat people doing their thing, in other words. And Jane Weaver is one of them.

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