Raymond Scott Woolson - Boggins Heights

THE VIEW FROM BOGGINS HEIGHTS reviewed by Brent Diaz at Somewhere Cold:

I don’t know a great deal about Raymond Scott Woolson. He is not signed to a label, and has no buzz machine pumping out sleek media promotions for him. But, what I do know of Woolson are his painstaking, home-made, ethereal ambient musical creations. After releasing two full-lengths chock full of dreamy compositions, the prolific Woolson has released his strongest and most aesthetically pleasing work.

Entitled The View From Boggins Heights, with a subtitle that says “Music for my kindred in kilter”, this 9 track swirls around the listener in delayed guitars, soothing keyboards, and wistful sonics for 1 hour.

This time, Woolson varies his production just a bit, adding more keyboards and exploring different elements of instrumental ambient music while retaining a steady cohesive flow of washed out beauty for the listener. Woolson has also increased his recording capacities so much that only the very trained ear can note that the album is actually crafted at home, rather than a proper studio.

Woolson’s guitars shimmer and explode while his keyboards dance effortlessly over long jams of haunting drones, proving that he has mastered not only the art of writing beautiful instrumental music, but the art of recording it as well.

Despite the glut of “instrumental/ambient/dreamy” bands out there, it’s actually a little difficult to compare The View From Boggins Heights with other works, because Woolson’s style is a little off-kilter, perhaps due to the individualistic nature of the creation of the CD.

The easiest reference one can make to The View From Boggins Heights is to say that it sounds at times like a lighter, more breezy Hammock (such as on the majestic album closer “Wayfarers All”…12 minutes of a hypnotic melody played by absolutely gorgeous guitars and keys…the song also ends with the sound of recorded ocean waves, the same sound that the CD opens with).

However, Woolson tends to mix in a stronger song structure compared to Hammock, and his songs, though generally lighter in terms of melody, also have a little more direction and focus to them. Other obvious references to Woolson’s sound may include Windy and Carl, with the echoing guitars, or perhaps even the dreamy moments of Slowdive, sans vocals of course.

After the waves subside on “Bringing Margot the Sun”, the song gradually expands into a wide open offering of dreamy guitars and layers of underlying sounds. These combine to usher in the perfect soundtrack to watching the sun rise, as the song subtly builds in intensity as elements are added. Woolson really shines on this song, as he does on “Selina’s Bonfire”, a more intense study in shoegazery guitars and darker melodies.

Woolson’s light side appears most readily on songs like “The Audubon Print For Ken”, with its floating guitar melody, and especially “Dear Wanda”, with throws the listener for a bit of a loop with its acoustic guitar, subtle drumming, and gliding keyboard work.

However, even though Woolson ably handles the softer and more standard side of his music so well, he really shines when he allows his sound to overrun the capacities of convention. “Wheels Whirling On a Red Plastic Motorcycle” is a key example of this, as Woolson plays to a nice layered climax of various sounds, flooding the listener with beautiful noise.

The track subsides to distant sounds of children playing, and the opening looped guitar strain of the mind-boggling “Wooden Tony: Lamented, Resurrected” begin. This song continues on with strange but fascinating sounds, until they explode into a glorious rush. Woolson lets loose, overwhelming the listener with huge layers of guitars, while his electronic drums pound out a feverish rhythm.

The song is an excellent indication of the confidence that Woolson has developed since his previous releases, as he is now able to execute and capture a huge sound on tape, enveloping the listener powerfully.

Indeed, maybe I know more about Woolson than I realize, for music-making, especially when done in obscurity and in solitude, is such an intimate affair. On The View From Boggins Heights, Raymond Scott Woolson is able to share his heart, vision, and emotions through his well-written ambient compositions.

And I’m not sure if there’s a better compliment for Woolson at this time, because, unlike its predecessors, there is no explaining away any perceived deficiencies of recording for The View From Boggins Heights. Woolson has been able to make a CD that, on the surface, is unhindered by technological restraints, rendering it able to be judged by its own standards of excellency.

And, judging The View From Boggins Heights on its own, the CD stands as a beautiful treatment into the possibilities of the instrumental dream-ambient world.

THE VIEW FROM BOGGINS HEIGHTS reviewed by Rev MC at Phantom Tollbooth:

I sit here at my trusty computer, with keyboard in hand writing this review, and the entire time I listened to this album I was in utter amazement. I am a fan of all genres, with special homage to the metal and alternative industry for stringing me along for so many years through my disconnected youth.

However as I grew older I began to embrace the culture of the New Age sound. I really dug deep and listened to many of the techno-ambient tunes of such greats as Jan Hammer, David Arkenstone, and many others who have piloted the New Age sound for the past few years. I was nearly driven to bliss when I put in the DVD of “Beyond The Mind’s Eye” and was for the first time filled with eye and ear candy simultaneously with my surround sound radio and my DVD player.

At the very moment I cued up ‘The View From Boggins Heights’, I was immediately enraptured back to the day I watched Mind’s Eye, and was for a second nearly spellbound by the talent of Woolson. His use of synthetic sound is embracing. His composition is near fantastical and epic in nature. I love ambience in music, and this album screams with it from track to track. It’s a trek into the world of New Age, like I have never taken before.

The first track “Bringing Margot the Sun” was inspiring, and then from that moment on you are taken on a journey through the mind of a truly talented musician. He has created a definite solid soundscape that is painted with cascading rivers of tone, and a kaleidoscope of musical instrumentation.

For having been originally mixed at home and then re-mastered by the artist himself, you would never have guessed that this record is entirely the creative genius of one man. But in the end you are left at the plateau of Woolson’s mind wanting more. I have this album ripped to my trusty mp3 player, and continue to listen to it daily.

THE VIEW FROM BOGGINS HEIGHTS reviewed by Joseph Kyle at Press Play, Record:

I have a feeling that, somewhere in the "pile" of records I never reviewed, I have the initial release of Raymond Scott Woolson’s self-released The View From Boggins Heights. I'm not going to look for it, though; I simply don't have the desire to wade through what is most assuredly a mediocre pile of music. Besides, it doesn't matter, as this 2007 reissue I just picked up suits me just fine.

Woolson's music is soft, simple, and quiet. It's an all-instrumental affair, and though it drifts nicely into the style of bliss-rock artists like Robin Guthrie, on "Six Hours One Friday," "Dear Wanda," and "Wheels Whirling On A Red Plastic Motorcycle," I honestly expected to hear singing, as the music seemed geared to accompanying vocals. Makes me wonder if Woolson has some singing in mind for the future, hasn't found the right vocalist to sing with him--or might not be quite confident enough to take the mic.

Overall, Woolson specializes in the electronica/pop/shoegazing mix that Ulrich Schnauss does quite well, only Woolson does not really remind you of Schnauss. When he gets into a melody, Woolson does his best to turn it into a mind-melding, head-expanding trip. The man does a good job of it, too, as it's easy to get lost in the atmospheres of "Selina's Bonfire"; and the closing epic "Wayfarers All" is just pure, unadulterated bliss.

Thankfully, though, Woolson doesn't fall into the sticking to one style trap, as it's not all blissful guitars; The View From Boggins Heights has enough sonic variety to hold your attention, even while you're being exposed to music that's very dreamy. The fast-paced "The Audubon Print For Ken" will wake up any sleepy-heads. "Dear Wanda" is a straight-up pop song, with instruments in the place of vocals; it has a Musak-meets-shoegazing feel that wouldn't sound out of place on Japancakes' cover of Loveless.

Apparently, Woolson reissued this to tide people over and get people ready for a big record he is releasing this year. After spending a cold, dreary weekend with The View From Boggins Heights I say--bring it on!

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