Vanity Project February 2007
Briny Hooves (She Bear) / Yew’s Paw (Onomatopoeia)
Two simultaneous album releases from the former Cardiac and classy, but psychedelic, composer William D. Drake, an early-music mangler with an ear for the absurd, the profound and the pop. ‘Briny Hooves’ begins with the chewy rhythm of ‘Wolves’, and after the snakes-and-ladders to-top-and-drop melodies which are Drake’s signature open ‘Dark Ecstasies’ he can easily merge into a fairly mainstream rock-opera piano style. ‘Ugly Fortress’, meanwhile, is da-da for the parlour. ‘The Fountains Smoke’ twinkles amongst heavy bass piano and workhouse/fog brass. The centerpieces here though is the divine, church-bells-in-misty-dissolve ‘Sweet Peace’ as well as the emotive, euloguous trumpet-led ‘Seahorse’. On ‘Yew’s Paw’, Drake’s skills as an instrumental composer are brought to the fore, with 13 piano-only pieces. His typical time and key changes are here but utilized in a much more genteel way perhaps than in his past musical lives. That said, when ‘Sylvie’s Proof’ changes from a stroll to a scamper in an instant, he shows that he can still play around with a listener’s, hitherto seemingly passive, adrenaline.