Music’s a funny old game really isn’t it? As a reviewer, as a listener we’re all quick to throw terms around that describe a music’s genre, it’s weirder still to think that these terms were only really introduced to society in the last fifty or so years, as a means of grouping different artists that have similar musical traits.
I’m sure we’ve all heard some ‘classical’ music, but do you even mean ‘classical’? Even that was a mere passage in the history of composition (1775-1825), before Spotify, iTunes, MTV there were concert halls, orchestras & choirs, and thousands upon thousands of sacred (religious) compositions. So when we talk about genres now, in comparison to then.. the game’s mental, there are so many sub-genres, fusions, *style*-core, post *style* etc. so how does one even begin to comprehend the vastly different amount of sonic characteristics that say Electronic music encompasses? Personally, I like to think that nobody actually knows what deep house is.. they all just pretend like they do, and nobody can ever call them out on it. But electronic music is a weird one, when one conjures up an image of drum & bass, your mind may wander to 17YO lads with a Vauxhall Corsa terrorising the elderly in their nearest McDonald’s car park with punishing bass drum sounds and super-fast ‘choons’, but the genre itself is immensely more complex and varied than any one stereotype paintbrush could ever hope to encapsulate. In this spotlight, we’re going to focus on a drum & bass artist that the both of us enjoy listening to, Etherwood.
Edward ‘Woody’ Allen is a Lincoln-based drum & bass producer signed to Hospital records. He has released two albums of original music & remixes, alongside various other mixes, and is currently working on his third full-length album to whit he describes
“Just cracking on with this third album. Better than the first two combined, that’s the plan. Easy”
All joking aside, that will be an immensely difficult task as to speak in the vernacular, the guy just pumps out absolute bangers. ‘Woody’ is more than just a producer, and that is quite evident in his music. An accomplished guitarist, singer, producer and session musician for such artists as Jakwob have consequently led to numerous awards for his work. He bagged both “Best Newcomer DJ” and “Best Newcomer Producer” at the drum & Bass Arena Awards in 2013, two awards that were entirely deserved, resulting in his record deal with Hospital Records.
The electronic music spectrum encompasses such a large mass of sound that it’s often difficult having to sift through the poorly made beats, unoriginal remix attempts and obvious, passion-lacking dribble. For this reason alone, when a producer puts out a genre-spanning album such as Etherwood’s debut, self-titled release, you know immediately that he will be one to remember. Released in 2013, Etherwood was highly regarded amongst most of the drum & bass community as a calm breath of fresh air. The progressive movement throughout the album was thoroughly natural and smooth, and the whole piece transitioned nicely through genres, concepts, guest vocals and stunning atmospheric concepts.
I, Fred, personally anticipated the release of his Etherwood’s Sophmore “Blue Leaves” as a highlight of 2015’s musical releases. It spans towards a slightly more mature sound than one we’ve heard before, with features from various people other artists it certainly sounds like a bigger sound – one that is slightly more sure of itself. The beautiful vocals of Zara Kershaw; the co-production from fellow Hospital signing LSB; the soulful pipes of Eva Lazarus; the insightful tones of forerunner Logistics’ Matt Gresham; and the unique style of Brazilian producer S.P.Y. culminate to ensure this album is an absolute journey with a gigantic soundscape.
A personal highlight for me is the sampling of a speech from mindfulness teacher Vinny Ferraro – a man whose life is based around teaching the power of perspective, the necessity of dealing with stress and anxiety effectively and just generally relaxing and being chilled. A more fitting speech could not have been chosen to sit in the middle of this beautiful record that promotes relaxation, meditation, forgiveness and acceptance. It’s a very interesting choice of cameo and is a magnificent decision that paid off and makes perfect sense.
When the bar is set as high as Etherwood’s music has placed it, it’s going to be hard to achieve that level of musical splendour again. Blue Leaves exceeded all high expectations by a landslide, and with the confidence flowing from the unanimous worldwide praise of his second, Woody’s third is going to be a masterpiece.
Co-written by Alexander Gibbons & Frederick Whatmore