Raymond Scott Woolson - Broken Things Mended

BROKEN THINGS MENDED reviewed by Business Lady at Norman Records:

R. Woolson has been crafting enchanted shoegaze dream-pop for as long as some folks have been alive. Here we have 'Broken Things Mended', a record that's been five years in the making and showcase's Woolson's talent for breezy, ethereal soundscapes and his ability to layer guitar over guitar over guitar until you feel immersed in a ocean of lilting six strings.

Everything presented here is ultra positive and full of optimism, there's not a bleak riff in sight which is helping lift my spirits on this particularly wet September afternoon. It feels like a dose of vitamin D injected direct into the ear drum. This is music you're gonna be pretty familiar with done in a way that you'll be more than familiar with but it's done very well and with an attention to detail that is hard to dismiss. If you like all that 90's shoegaze and 4AD stuff then they'll be plenty to keep you amused here.

BROKEN THINGS MENDED reviewed by Greg Argo at Delusions Of Adequacy:

Usually the phrase one-man band conjures thoughts of a guy on stage with either a guitar or keyboard, a tambourine tied to his leg, a harmonica harnessed to his neck, and a kick drum at foot, making a living more from spectacle than from any sort of memorable music. Raymond Scott Woolson is a one-man band, but in almost the completely opposite sense. Instead of sounding like a busker, Woolson produces enough layers with guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums to compete with any conventional multi-person band.

With no live show, his work exists only in recorded form, and this work speaks for itself, unsupported by promotional images of his face or statements of purpose. Entirely instrumental and home-recorded, Woolson’s music is refreshingly free of scene or pretense. This freedom extends that feeling of freshness to the music, which surges upward in slow-building layers of guitars which sparkle brightly before diffusing into the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

Woolson has developed a strong reputation among a small legion of geeky music fans as one of the best artists working within the ethereal instrumental rock zone. These are fans that don’t care how he presents himself or what label he’s on, just that his music hits that sweet spot. His records consistently do just that – while never striking a bad note – and make grand gestures seem both effortless and effervescent.

He combines the huge but personal sound of incremental post-rockers Mogwai with the serene maximalist washes of electronic artists like Ulrich Schnauss. Even as Broken Things Mended often escalates into exuberant climaxes, it achieves a rare thing by feeling as relaxing as it does energizing, making a great space for a clarity of consciousness to develop.

But this is all true of all of Woolson’s albums. What makes Broken Things Mended even better than the rest of his stellar discography is Woolson’s obvious artistic growth. Lead track “Future Self Portraits” jumps off the page as Woolson’s poppiest track, buoyed not only by a nimble lead riff, but a rhythm section jauntier than he’s brought to the table previously, cycling through spacious breaks and rushing bursts to the point of transcendent overload, all in under five minutes.

“Bring Your Whirlwinds With You” lapses into a ferocious break – easily the heaviest moment Woolson has put to tape – that brilliantly slips in a false stop and even falser restart before the main theme returns as light as a cloud and a pogoing riff dances the song out. “Awake O Sleeper in the Fields” even seems to drop the guitars in favor of a meditation of piano, synthetic instruments, and field recordings.

The last half of the album hears some of Woolson’s most pastoral melodies (“Every Unrequited”) alongside some of his deepest psych passages (“Moving Up Day”). But for an album so overflowing in layers and sheets of sound, even the darker moments are eventually leavened by glory, leaving one with the feeling that everything is going to be alright, if not in every fact and detail, at least in the overall scheme of things.

Eschewing simple dreaminess, Broken Things Mended beckons the listener to wake up and feel invigorated by life in the moment. It sounds both massive and light, turbulent and calm, comprehensive and immediate. If you’re at all a fan of grandly expansive rock and aren’t afraid of positive emotions, Broken Things Mended has the power to fulfill its promise of healing. Woolson makes it as simple as sitting there and opening your ears – your heart will soon follow.

BROKEN THINGS MENDED reviewed by Jack Rabid at The Big Takeover:

Just as experiment, I’d like to give Woolson’s instrumental albums to a singer I love and have them craft words and melodies for his gorgeous guitar tunes. As in the past, Broken Things Mended doesn’t need them to connect, though. It features background mechanical bass ‘n’ drums, but aside from a song with piano and “faux clarinet,” the focus never leaves the Technicolor flicker of Woolson’s multi-guitar parts, which fill his home studio like steam fills a steamroom.

I hear similarities to the young Neil Halstead and Christian Saville of Slowdive circa “Morningrise,” both For Against players (especially the departed Mave Hinrichs), and the genre-master, Dave Fielding, too—making this a felicitous feast for Chameleons-heads.

Only RSW has his own techniques, alternating between playful and mega-moody, with some space-walk weightlessness to boot. Like similar music that Independent Project Records releases, it’s intense, subtle, powerful, soundtrack-windswept, and unspeakably beautiful.

BROKEN THINGS MENDED reviewed by Jon Leonard at Leonard’s Lair:

I was first introduced to the music of Raymond Scott Woolson through his 2005 compilation ‘Accidental Grace Notes’. Like M83, Woolson is a great lover of dreampop AKA the wall of sound or even “shoegaze soundscapes” as his label describes it. So if its skyscraping guitar-led escapism you’re after, Broken Things Mended fulfils that need.

Broken Things Mended is noteworthy for its fantastically-titled tracks which summon up all kinds of images of artists from the heyday of the 4AD Record Label. Fulfilling its promise, ‘Future Self-Portraits’ is a sugar rush of an opener, whilst ’The Vision Maker’ balances ambient music with the sounds of thunder; brilliantly it sounds like a lost instrumental from mid-80s period Cocteau Twins. Better still, ‘Bring Your Whirlwinds With You’ shows an understanding of the intricate guitar work and euphoria The Workhouse conjured up.

On a near seventy minute album though, there’s a fair amount of aural nothingness. ‘When I Am Lifted Up’ is warm and gentle  but ‘Awake O Sleeper In Your Waiting Fields’ drifts along, hook-free for seven unremarkable minutes. This leads to a brief lull in the record as Woolson seems to be treading all too familiar ground but the album regains its edge when ‘The Kite Flyers’ Reunion’ enters the fray with its windswept waves of gorgeousness. It’s then left to ‘White Founts Falling In The Courts Of The Sun’ to generate just the right level of melancholy and melodrama to end the record.

Occasionally Woolson comes across as a tired pastiche act but at his best he absolutely nails it; bringing shoegaze fans to their knees with a killer key change. With a new release to follow later in the year, fans will wait with bated breath for the next set of fabulously-named instrumental tunes.

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