Album Review | Top of the World | Spiro – Welcome Joy and Welcome Sorrow


By Tim Cumming

English minimalists delve into the poetry books

638The folk quartet Spiro rework English dance tunes under the aegis of minimalism and systems music; these are tunes that have been stripped down and reassembled to run on the kind of fuel that puts you into orbit. They create ecstatic, interlocking, intricate musical patterns that are as hypnotising and beguiling as the most complex Fibonacci sequences.

On their fifth album, its title taken from a John Keats poem, they reach new heights, most notably on the track ‘And All Through the Winter He Hid Himself Away’ and the one that follows it, ‘One Train May Hide Another’, its title taken from a poem by American poet Kenneth Koch. Much of the album appears to have been inspired by poetry: they turn to TS Eliot’s Four Quartets for ‘The Still Point of the Turning World’ and to Poet Laureate Ted Hughes for ‘Thought Fox’.

Though they’re from wildly different worlds, I’m reminded of Calvin Harris’ electronic hits in terms of the dynamics of build and release in their music, although Spiro are infinitely more subtle of course. Welcome Joy and Welcome Sorrow is their finest studio work so far, but the power they summon up live makes them a must-see experience.

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