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Album Review

by Wilberforces

Muzai Records

Review Date
8th September 2011
Reviewed by
Nich Cunningham

You have probably already figured out that this review is about Vipassana, Wilberforces’ new album. And you might already know it’s not really the same Wilberforces who released Haunted back in 2008. “Gone are extraneous guitars and bass players” you might say. You might even argue that Thom Burton has gone full circle, returning to the instrumentation of his previous band Yokel Ono, breaking it down to its primordial elements. But if you did, you’d be a dick because the others just left. However, if you said that Wilberforces have taken these departures as a cue to produce a punchy, stripped-back, direct and possibly cathartic but ultimately very engaging and enjoyable collection of songs, you’d be spot on, although a bit long-winded.

But it would be difficult to describe this album as long-winded. Instead Vipassana is presented as quick, simple and bare. It doesn’t out stay it welcome: it’s just passing through. There is a single-mindedness here that gives the music clarity. Though the lyrics seem cryptic and evasive ( the album title suggests they are meditations rather than definitive statements ) the mood and intention is made clear by the bellicose manner in which the music is performed: like a more aggressive / less melodic Mission of Burma or a less aggressive / more melodic version of Shellac,  all the while incorporating a New Zealand-ness without sounding like a Flying Nun covers band.

This is a good album. It’s not pretty and it’s not cloying. It may not want to be your friend. And it’s probably not for everyone. But if you like a bit of venom or a bit of bile or just a bit of Maurice Gee, this might be for you.


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