Album Review: Inventions - Maze of Woods

Album Review: Inventions - Maze of Woods
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'Maze of Woods'
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Brooklyn, NY
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About 20 seconds into "Escapers," the opening track off Inventions' second full-length album, Maze of Woods, a surprisingly direct vocal statement echoes in out of nowhere: "I wanted to do something that I don't know how to do," it says.  Now first of all, words have always been few and far between for Inventions.  Matthew Cooper and Mark T. Smith are purveyors of epic instrumental soundscapes, both as Inventions and in their other projects, Eluvium and Explosions in the Sky.  Besides that, the quote also seems like a mission statement for the new album, considering how bravely they've transcended their comfort zone this time around.  Last year's debut from the duo was a logical combination of the Eluvium and Explosions in the Sky styles, but on Maze of Woods, there are plenty of curveballs along the way.

After "Escapers" comes "Springworlds," with a pretty guitar melody from Smith intertwined around Cooper's sweeping washes and vocal snippets.  It's not always so clear who's doing what, though; some tracks don't have much guitar involved, so it's likely that Smith has been getting his hands dirty with some other instruments, too.  At other times he uses his guitar in deceptive ways, wrestling sounds out of it you'd never think possible.  On "A Wind From All Directions," an airy atmosphere gets swept along by his guitar squall that's as odd as it is uplifting.  

Matthew Cooper also yields interesting results that we've hardly seen from him before.  The human voice is more prominent than ever on Maze of Woods, ranging from the choir-like finale "Feeling the Sun Thru the Earth at Night," to an uneasy murmuring on "Peregrine."  His somber piano pieces are injected into the murk fro time to time, adding emotional weight to what is overall a very positive, even upbeat album.

This restless, exploratory spirit is what makes Maze of Woods such a fulfilling listen; the duo often chooses to throw subtlety out the window in favor of wide-eyed exuberance.  It's the perfect music for you to do some exploring of your own, spring has sprung so get out there and enjoy it, right after you check out Maze of Woods.  It's out now through Temporary Residence / Bella Union.


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