Review | Bamboo


Bamboo, The Dragon Flies Away, Crumb Cabin/Upset! The Rhythm

Bamboothe London and Brighton based duo made up of Rachel Horwood (Halo Halo, Trash Kit) and Nick Carlisle (Peepholes, Don’t Argue), released their debut album Prince Pansori Priestess only last December, and are back again with their second long-player. The Dragon Flies Away has been released initially on the Crumb Cabin label as a limited run of cassettes paired with an accompanying risoprint zine by Rachel (also a talented visual artist), that illustrates the story told through the songs.

Gleaning inspiration from traditional folk masks worn in Japanese Noh plays, gorgeous opening track, ‘Hannya’, sets the stage in this theatrical journey in a stoic, yet heart-soaring soundscape. Employing the marimba paired with Horwood’s distinctive electric banjo, ‘Always Running’ features Horwood’s rich vocals lying atop layered instrumentals in a track that is as cerebral as it is highly danceable.

Album highlight, ‘Thinking Of You’ recalls the likes of early Broadcast. It’s perfect dreamy music for a crisp autumn day. It’s the kind of music that used to come out on Warp. This track shows the the rapid growth of Bamboo’s oeuvre since Prince Pansori Priestess and this, their latest endeavor. They have solidified their sound, but not so much that they’re locked down in place just yet.

On ‘Like A Sparrow’ Horwood is joined on vocals by Carlisle in a solemn incantation that lays out his expert abilities in sound design, incorporating found sound with electronic elements in a heady broth that is utterly intoxicating. Trusting oneself and one’s intuitive abilities is a major thematic element of the album. In the propulsive ‘Wake Up Your Heart’, Rachel proclaims: “Here is the brain in the heart.” With Nick’s help on vocals once more, Rachel’s expressive vocals add nuance and versatility on this ode to intuition.

Title as well as closing track, ‘The Dragon Flies Away’ provides narrative resolution and a greater sense of clarity. “ I never trusted myself/ wanted to be someone else,” Horwood explains as chimes and synths swirl in an airy dance of celebration and liberation from self-doubt.

As uplifting as it is inspiring, The Dragon Flies Away is a compulsive listen from start-to-finish, and an essential addition to your music collection. In this autumnal abundance of formidable records currently being released, it would be criminal to overlook one of the finest offerings of the entire year. Bamboo is an exciting, vibrant band that is one to keep an eye on as they only continue to outdo themselves with their own uniquely sublime sounds.

Megan Beard

The album can be purchased digitally via Crumb Cabin’s Bandcamp page.

Catch Bamboo live this autumn:

Friday 21- 23 October Sŵn Festival Cardiff, UK

Thursday 27 October New River Studios London, UK

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