Tom Wu (2014)
2014 #munich again Top Albums
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This is more than overdue!
Let me introduce Tom Wu before everything. He has been one of the metronomes of the Munich Scene for some time now. Tom was/is a part of the amazing acts Kamerakino, Das Weiße Pferd, The Lazy and Convertible, amongst others, as drummer or rhythm guy or singer/songwriter and if you already had the chance to listen to those acts, you already know that rhythm, in their music, is important as a beating heart. Tom Wu is also known for crafting a few very colourful covers, go listen to them, it’s an amazing standpoint to get a peek in his personal appreciation of Music.
But this album. Tom Wu by Tom Wu is a live album released earlier this year, and it’s the solo act of a drummer who sings. Intrigued yet? Even better, it was recorded live, and filmed with the amazing visuals of Florian Decker, with sensuous dancers who are also overachievers in the Munich Scene, Spandex, Peitschenfrau and Relle Büst. You can already find a few videos of it all on YouTube. Go see them, they show so much about how genius the execution of it all is. It’s LIVE! When you look back on Tom Wu’s page on Facebook, you find some amazing behind-the-scene pics, like the SoundMobile, the workplace of Mister Tobias Laemmert (Protein) for the recording session. It’s all pretty neat, really.
The poetry of this release has been referenced as minimalist before, and yes, it’s all about precise, elegant, well-directed and essential verses that are yet another pulse in this rhythmic exclamation. This is what is so beautiful about a drummer singing too : the Wu-voice is part of the drum kit (the drum altar! ha) and still it flies, bounces and rebounds on it with disconcerting ease.
“This is the story of a celibate man”
This Celibate Man is actually one of those songs that you are grateful you’ve heard in your life. To a newbie, like I was (and I’m thinking I always will be one though), it’s a total revelation of “Wow, you can do that much musicality with a drum??” The minimalist melodies really let the performance take the lead in a very symbiotic way. It’s a great album to listen to casually too, because it’s completely infectious and absolutely accessible : you could convince your credule friends that Nothing to Fuck is actually a classic song from the 60’s and they would be none the wiser.
I talked about colourful covers earlier. Venus in Furs is another perfect example for that. The Velvet Underground version is, of course, completely flawless, but Tom Wu’s version is just…. iridescent.
Cops everywhere prints itself in your brain like police’s flashing lights on retinas. I bet it’s an amazing fun, live, with an audience, as there’s so much room for build-ups and teasing and it’s all so playful.
Talking about playfulness… Sissy is a missy and Don’t call me a duck are little works of art that you can’t fully appreciate until you start /listening/. Then, it’s doomed to put a smile on your face. It’s fantastic. Listen to the lyrics, listen to the drum. Listen.
You arrive at Jimmy’s got a gun and you know it’s nearly the end, especially if you listened to the whole story. If you had not noticed yet, this album is totally a storyboard. Even what is Side A and Side B makes sense. But back to the track : this is one of the songs this year that made me discover that I’m a complete sucker for “end of song build-ups that should never end” : the ghost of it stretches into eternity and the volume curve flies up in the sky.
The Separate vibrant manifesto makes room for an hallucinated sense of closure for our protagonist (or so it seems, to me? I’ll have to discuss this with the songwriter probably). It’s a beautiful lullaby that leaves you with unanswered questions and you feel compelled to continue the story yourself. What happens next? Only time will tell 🙂
“Soon there’s gonna be sunshine”