Hi-Fi World – September 2008
Subba-Cultcha – February 2007
Yew’s Paw / Briny Hooves
One Time Cardiacs man offers up two albums of eclectic, classically influenced, piano based psychedelia.
William D Drake is a man out of time. He comes, beamed across time and space from an age of silver screens and revolution. A composer, songwriter and pianist who broods and confounds, twisting resonant falling key changes into evocative pastoral passages that surprise and confound in equal measure.
There are two records here, quite disparate but bound by common threads. Yew’s Paw consists of thirteen solo piano pieces, a macabre soundtrack that draws forth a huge swell of foreboding and tempered power across its duration. Drawing on childhood obsessions with Disney, Spike Milligan and such leviathan’s as Debussy and Rachmaninov Drake doesn’t so much as cajole you into his world as lash you to a chair before saturating you in bombardment of chopping time signatures and discordant key changes that stretch simultaneously across a myriad of emotions. The title track clearly sets out the stylistic stall, hitting the ground running and recalling the identity that permeated Drake’s time as a Cardiac. Title’s such as ‘Within My Skull’ providing the perfect signpost to this records origins, Blake has poured the dark contents of his conscious down through his fingers and into the very grain of his piano. It is a stark, biting collection recalling variously the classical heavy weights, later day jazz visionaries, and yet it is laced with a noir reminiscient of the modern songbook of artists such as E or Nick Cave.
By contrast Briny Hooves is a record of aching immediacy. From the off Drake employs much of the stylistic fervor evident on Yew’s Paw to embellish his songs with an infectious intent. ‘Lightening strikes but once they say. it was everyday’, he sings across opening track ‘Wolves’, and he has a point, because across the eleven songs lightening strikes with alarming frequency. Quite simply breathtaking in its impassioned delivery Drake incants Cohen-esque narratives across stark choral arrangements that sweep and rise like the lost moments of a Dennis Wilson fantasy.
Yet, for all his passion it is still when simply using melody as his voice that Drake truly creates transcendent music, and where Briny Hooves lets you glimpse, such as during the stand out ‘SeaHorse’, Yew’s Paw is the sound of a man delivered.
By Jonathan Sebire