Michael Woodman – Psithurism
Well known as guitarist and vocalist for the singular Thumpermonkey, Psithurism (named for the ancient Greek term for the wind in the trees) and describes itself as ‘inhabiting the quiet interstices between mossy wet stones or murder ballads with funny counting.’
Stepping away from the more complex and intense sounds that Thumpermonkey are well known for, this still has Michaels DNA running throughout, and it certainly isn’t what you’d class as easy listening!
But that doesn’t matter, as this EP has more than enough on here to pique your interest and keep you coming back for more, working with his fellow Thumpermonkeys Sam Warren & Ben Wren, with the saxophone of Josh Perl from Knifeworld and drummer John Simm, this is a singular piece of work, hovering somewhere between acid folk, new psych and the dark parts of the forest where the wolves lure red riding hood off the path.
Opening with the double header of Sacramento that flows into Petrichor this sets it’s stall out straight away with Michaels vocals opening the album, accompanied by his unique guitar work, that shimmers as the song builds, providing a counterpoint to his vocals, and this pared back approach works really well as an opener, until the drums kick in and it flows straight into Petrichor, as the guitar effect and the drum nicely underpin Woodman’s versatile vocals, before the bass kicks in, sinewy and allowing one of Woodmans trademark solos to burst through. A blast of Perls unique sax as the band kicks in pulls it all together, before Woodmans voice and guitar close the circle.
The wonderful Cloned in Error with more of that unique guitar sound, and wonderful musical moments where the space in between the sound is as important as the sound, has quite heavy lyrics which run over some truly intricate and sublime musical arrangements.
The Levitant, all 6 minutes plus of it, see’s more of Woodmans wonderful guitarwork throughout, and starts off in a laidback style and the track again builds and builds, as the drums kick in, and has more thoughtful and stirring lyrics, and again a really powerful musical backing, whilst Woodmans vocals, in harmony with himself, create a choir like effect providing a harmonic contradiction to the heavier music.
Finishing on Seachange, which is a perfect way to end this EP with a really crunchy riff and some powerful interchanges between the drum and bass, as the song pushes forward into some really heavy psych as the sax kicks in, bringing to mind elements of dark psych like the Third Ear Band, and the way the vocals, the music and the vibe comes together, this is a glorious sound.
Michael Woodman has a unique musical vision, and here on Psithurism, he is firing on all cylinders and has created a complex, uncompromising and magnificent EP full of charm, hooks a plenty and an ethereal beauty.
This is a fantastic piece of work and one that as it draws you into its musical world reveals more of its secrets with every listen.
As you can imagine, with this being released on Kavus Torabi’s Believers Roast it is a perfect choice for those of us out there who like Knifeworld, Thumpermonkey (of course) and other alternative sounds like Guapo, and despite sitting well within this genre, this is one on it’s own and is a fantastic debut from Michael Woodman, and I for one can’t wait to catch him performing this live when he heads out on the road later in the year as a double header with Kavus Torabi.
1: Sacramento 2:32
2: Petrichor 3:32
3: Cloned in Error 5:36
4: The Levitant 6:43
Released on 6th August 2021
Believers Roast Records
Michael Woodman – vocals, guitars & keys, bass on track 5
Sam Warren – bass
Josh Perl – saxophone
John Simm – drums and additional sound design
Ben Wren – Shimmering Energy Clouds on The Levitant