There is a section during ‘I’m In Your House’, third track in to jazz outfit The Weave’s forthcoming new record Knowledge Porridge, in which we are treated to a typically charming vibraphone solo followed by an equally beautiful dose of guitar. It is a passage which is reflective of everything good about the album as a whole, as endearing as it is superbly composed, and packed with the sort of character which the record can boast in abundance. With a track listing including names such as ‘Not On Your Nelly’, there is no hiding that that this is going to be an outing with plenty of charisma. It is its ability to infect such a notion, however, which gives the album its spark.
Truly, it is this sense of charm and character on which the real strength of the record lies. ‘The Pogo’ opens Knowledge Porridge in the sort of jaunty, joyous fashion at which the album will, for the most part, find itself at its most effective. The aforementioned ‘I’m In Your House’ is the band’s strongest exhibition in this respect, comprising layers of eccentric, enticing horns and piano, and the nice touch of the guiro partaking in the percussion in the background. We have previously previewed ‘Knowledge Porridge’ here at LSRadio, though the track loses none of its potent likability upon its inclusion in the record as a whole, a cheeky number which undergoes several movements, each one as necessary and as excitable as the last.
There are moments where the album takes a dip, where the heart is seemingly misplaced, and the personality seeps out the music. Most disappointing is ‘Evolve And Expand’, which features Lucy Mercer of Stealing Sheep on vocal duties and acoustic guitar, a track which lacks the panache found in abundance elsewhere, and fails to compensate in either allure or serenity. Brooding and at times rather lovely it may be, but the final product is ultimately a bit flat, and not the highlight one would have hoped for. ‘Para Parrot’ similarly feels a little empty, a little shallow, devoid of the buzz and charm which The Weave exhibit so successfully elsewhere on the record.
The true joy of Knowledge Porridge, however, is found in the moments which deviate from the jubilant spine on which it rests. ‘Our Day On The Mountain’ is a boozy, sedated affair, the piano less vibrant and jittery, and instead allowing the horns and double bass to come to the fore and embellish the song with a noir-esque vibe of intrigue and sleaze. Most impressive and enjoyable however is the closer, the impeccably titled ‘Princess Salami Socks’. Decidedly more sombre and melancholy, it is alike a Tim Burton lullaby, beautifully composed and reflecting a darker dynamic to the band. The music box adds an aesthetic as haunting as it is tantalising, and the cellos by Georgina and Jonathan Aasgaard prove equally impressionable, injecting a gothic flavour to a wonderful ending.
For a record that appears to thrive on instant appeal, Knowledge Porridge is far from devoid of further substance. It is indeed the nuances and the space amid its more exuberant exploits that warrant repeated returns, and give it a depth which moves beyond the strictly joyous. It is further corroboration that there is indeed strength in variety, and when such inviting likability is mingled together with a series of more evocative forays, the result is always worth dipping in to.