Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology

JANE WEAVER'S BACK STORY LIES in her native north-west and early-’90s, Peel-favoured indie rockers Kill Laura, but her watershed moment belatedly arrived with 2014’s The Silver Globe – a slow-burn cult success enthused about in record shops’ ‘Staff picks’ sections and on social media. Since 2002, its author had released a stream of folkish stuff that revealed real songwriting talent. Now, her more pastoral aspects were combined with such touchstones as Hawkwind, Neu! and the early Human League, which couched everything in the kind of retro-futurism captured by the title, taken from a mid-’70s Polish sci-fi movie that was banned by the Communist authorities. Anyone who loved that record will be relieved to hear that this latest album finds Weaver exploring similar territory, and that Modern Kosmology is every bit as good as its predecessor. The same essential ingredients are here: Kraut-ish repetition, analogue synths, beguiling vocal melodies. In lesser hands, such building-blocks might suggest hipster tedium of the kind that now clogs up so many record racks. Weaver is light years beyond that, using motorik rhythms and ancient technology to create music that brims with urgency, and originality.

“Motorik rhythms and ancient technology create music that brims with urgency, and originality.”

There is real creative bravery at work here, often manifested in a less-is-more sensibility that pays real dividends. The fragile, emotive lead-off single Slow Motion is built on little more than a couple of keyboard parts and Weaver’s vocals; the mesmeric The Lightning Back might be composed of even less. But both showcase an instinctive grasp of how to use old-fashioned technology to evoke the way that our collective present is shot through with traces of the distant past (in that sense, she’s a practitioner of what the modern critical vocabulary calls ‘hauntology’). Elsewhere, the same essential approach is used in the service of very effective pop music – as on You Are The Architect, pitched somewhere between Visage and the great lost Mancunian visionaries World Of Twist.

The influence of the early Velvets subtly intrudes on Loops In The Secret Society and Ravenspoint. Perhaps best of all is Valley, a rather blankly titled masterstroke that combines Weaver’s music then and now, using the sparsest of arrangements for a song seemingly inspired by Sandy Denny circa The North Star Grassman And The Ravens. As with so much of Weaver’s recent work, everything is here: intimations of mortality (“We’re on our way to dust,” says a male narrator), the impression of someone dealing in the truly profound, and a sense of artistic maturity, in the best possible way. Jane Weaver is 44: on this evidence, she is hitting her creative stride to brilliant effect.