WOO: When The Past Arrives (Drag City/Yoga)


WOO is the moniker of brothers Mark and Clive Ives, who have quietly and privately recorded together for the last four decades, making soft, gentle music that is mostly instrumental in nature and often quite beautiful. When The Past Arrives may be a new record, but it’s actually a collection of songs recorded over the past three decades,  and he music they make transcends time and space.

Doesn’t seem like it, though. Their sound often features the gentle picking of guitar, the quiet plucking of keyboards and the somnambulist-like brushes of synths. Considering how similar in nature these recordings are to, say, the Eno brothers, Harold Budd, and Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly, one wonders how they didn’t wind up on noted labels of the time like Opal or Editions EG, because these compositions really are of that level of quality.

It’s a sign of true talent when one can make short, two minute sonic sketches feel like much, much longer, more in-depth recordings. The album’s longest track,”Satya,” effectively opens the album, clocks in at nine minutes long, but its wash of synths and classical guitar and minimalist, repetitive melody line can feel like a twenty minute epic. That’s not a criticism; part of the duo’s mission is to make quiet, healing, reflective music for meditation, and the economy that they pull off ensures quality relaxation for a minimal investment in time. There’s but one vocal track, “The Garden Path,” and it’s a beautiful, zen-like thought that matches “The Road Not Taken” in its thought provoking nature.

With the recent revival of New Age music, WOO lucks out, because When The Past Arrives is a perfectly-timed balm of vintage sounds that seem practically made for soothing our modern era’s stressful lives.

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