Woo
www.woo-music.co.uk
Woo Home - New Age Music, Relaxation + Shiatsu Treatments
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Music for spiritual healing, relaxing and meditation
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Buy Whichever Way CD;  Independent music, electronic, instrumental, experimental jazz, synth, english swingtime, alternative, songs, nostalgic...Album acclaimed by Melody Maker and NME.
Whichever Way You Are Going, You Are Going Wrong
(The Sunshine Series)
Independent, alternative, indie rock, electronic, instrumental, experimental, lo-fi, jazz, synth & nostalgic acoustic guitar music
 
 
 
Woo music reviews by NME, Melody Maker, All Music Guide...
Offbeat - Review by Tony Fletcher
Review of Whichever way you are going, you are going wrong

This is a superb album from the label that's already brought the world Savage Republic, Camper Van Beethoven, Ten Foot Faces and all that kind of thing. Woo play a really minimal Portastudio-styled version of Durutti Column with an intense, tasteful and ultimately emotional end result. Instrumental and flowing, this is the kind of noise that makes life worth living and the continuation to sift through millions of releases more than worthwhile. Strange and studious but ultimately unmissable.

Best LP for some time.

 
 
NME - Review by Andy Gill
COUNTRY BOYS?

HOW STRANGE that in a year so packed with rhythmic punches of one kind or another, the most enduring noise should come from quarters neither funk nor punk, but from a pair of brothers seemingly time-locked into the spirit of '67.

Or maybe not. Mark and Clive, the brothers Ives, are the kind of living-room duo who might have found some favour in the Great Indie Upheaval of '78-'80, when all manner of new designs were sanctioned and sustained, before the idea of "making your own record" outgrew the quite different idea of "making your own music" and that healthy baby was jettisoned along with the stale bathwater. It could well be a fortuitous bad timing that sees the first Woo album now rather than then, at a time when there is literally nothing to compare it with.

Woo's is the quiet, melodic end of the avant-garde, a largely acoustic concoction owing less to "folk" than to a sense of English country music, its manifold bucolic evocations the perfect complement to a spring (of sorts) slowly stumbling into summer. The hapless Felt would doubtless like to sound like this, but the only real comparison is with the liquid systems of a Buckley album, delicate, suggestive drops and ripples sketching out some grand design of atmosphere, especially on a track like 'The English Style of Rowing' where the Lee Underwood guitar tones and multi-tracked breaths of clarinet harbour memories of some Blue Afternoon…

The main reason that the ambient experiments of Eno so often founder is the forced determinations of theory imposed upon the natural flow of things, the necessity he feels to let the mind know what it should ignore; Woo's music, another ambient strain, has such marvellous powers of relaxation precisely because it isn't forced, because it wanders its own way free of both intellectual and commercial restraints and pressures. There's nothing formalised or studied about these thirteen pieces, no need to know, no threads of attitude or style or rhythm to pursue: this music simply exists, and exists simply. And unlike much around these days, it will stand. It's certainly the only '82 LP I play again and again ... Whichever way Woo go is fine by me.

 
Melody Maker - Review by Steve Sutherland
TALES FROM THE ATTIC
 

THERE'S a faithhealer's advertisement in the front window, Laurel and Hardy smile down on the hall and a uniformed beauty from World War II peers out from a bush in the garden. There's a converted bedroom full of joss-sticks and amps, eight years' worth of almost all-night improvisation stashed in cassettes growing slowly forgotten, and a pair of thin brothers giggling with glee as they tumble like schoolkids out onto the lawn. Welcome to Gladstone Road, Wimbledon. Welcome to the world of Woo.

It's almost too easy to treat the cover of Woo's debut album as some kind of profoundly symbolic group statement - it plumbs the absolute pits of amateur psychology to take its title "Whichever Way You Are Going, You Are Going Wrong" - and to see innocent, near-naked child surrounded by so-called intellectual superiors clipped from an old copy of Charles Kingsley's "Water Babies" as emblematic of the states of mind that motivated Woo. Fact is, though, you wouldn't be too far wrong. Mark Ives left his folk-rock group and RAF career on the Isle of Wight in '72, eased himself into an office job and settled down with his brother Clive, an ex-art student turned semilucrative illustrator. To pass the time they made tapes. Millions of 'em. Mark fulfilled a life-long dream, jacked in his job and tripped round India picking up dysentery on the way back. Now he does a little cleaning, gardening and cooking and indulges his passion for tennis while his brother's becoming involved with a kiln. They make a few tapes on the side.

Cocooned from the world in their semi-detached, Mark and Clive attempted forms of meditation music mostly for their own amusement, often with little success. Then two accidents happened. First a friend in Chichester sought out Cherry Red with a bunch of local demos, all - it turned out - totally unsuitable. Mike Alway, Cherry's chap: played the disappointed impresario a selection of more worthy stuff and the friend suggested he contact the Ives. Said they sounded like the Velvet Underground. They didn't, but no matter.

Mike came calling to Gladstone Road, marvelled at selections from the mountain of tapes and simply suggested, somewhat dumbstruck that the world might also like a listen. This had never occured to the Ives."What happened to me was for eight years or so I was just playing music and writing stuff because it was just the sort of thing I did," Mark blushes. "There was no kind of intellectual reason for playing. I met people in Sri Lanka, India who lust sat there" - he drums his hands on the kitchen table - "and you ask them why they play and they say 'Because I do'. That's it really."We didn't feel people would be interested before," confirms Clive. "Nothing on the radio seemed to suggest our music would be accepted. Then we heard Mike's record collection."
The second accident was finding that picture. It somehow seemed to provide a purpose, a reason to make their private play public, a reason for Woo to exist. "See this guy here? He's innocent, right?" Mark paws the child-figure on the cover. "He's self-contained and he's got no problem but all these people are trying to tell him 'go here, go there'.

"'The Attic', the only vocal song on the album (lyrics by Roger McGough), is about an ex-art-student who had great dreams 'n' all that but ends up putting his work up under the roof because certain things have got to him. I mean, I've known people who have given up playing because other people have said 'Ah! That's terrible!'
"I bloody had that! My uncle was a saxophone player, a brilliant jazz player, and for years he said 'You're useless' and he meant it! I used to go 'Ah? I'll never play the saxophone' and I never did but I'm very happy playing the clarinet ... it's a struggle to get over that." What Mark means - and he admits himself he's got no way with words - is that Woo's 12 gorgeous instrumentals - carefully, soul-searchingly selected from their past experiments to form "Whichever Way" - are designed to convey optimism through mood and atmosphere. "Just getting love across," as Mark puts it.
Call them old hippies if you Iike - accuse them of anti-social behaviour, lack of sexuality, tweeness, lack of contemporary suss, even bark without bite, but never doubt their compassion or their capacity to communicate it.

Tell them their soundscapes are like wishy-washy watercolours against today's bold, brash graffiti, tell them you can't understand why they don't appear either escapist or angry in one of this century's darkest times and Mark will simply smile.
"That's our answer. Now's the time to be brightest. Everything's grim,I know, but there is something greater and if you can get in touch with that...POW! Perhaps, through our music, we do glimmer on something, God or whatever your terminology is."

Don't laugh or panic. Woo - named after a line in the film "What's New Pussycat" - don't want to sell you any religion. That's why they seldom use words. They just want to confirm in you a peace, that may be already there, crouching dormant behind your emotions. If you've ever relaxed in a long, lush soak with Vini Reilly, John Martin or even Skidoo, Woo could very well do you good too. Because whichever way they're doing it, they're doing it just right.

 
Review by David Ilic
CITY LIMITS
 
What has to be the most encouraging and beautiful debut released this year comes not from the bowels of the musical hype-a-market, but from a pair of South London recluses. "Whichever way you are going, you are going wrong" is a selection of domestic recordings made over the last three years: a period in which the brothers Clive and Mark Ives effectively isolated themselves from the outside world. The result is a thoroughly charming and unassuming album, albeit a little niave; the thirteen tracks veering from compostions stamped with a classical converatism to slowly unfolding improvistions which boast a wealth of sensitive melodic detail.

There is nothing here to rankle or intimidate the senses: the presiding mood of the music is seductive and relaxed as guitar and clarinet smooch in an almost refined air with little more than keyboards and some unobtrusive percussion for company.

In short, Woo are a testimony to the fact that the self-indulgent can also be extremely accessible; their refusal to court modern musical stylistics undoubtedly a tonic to the ears. Seek out this album at your earliest oppurtunity.

 
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