Wildbirds & Peacedrums
The Swedish duo performed in A Room for London on Thursday 26 April 2012
Watch their performance below.
Photograph by Hans Olof Johansson
Wood, metal, glass, water / coins, nails, stones, ink + the wind
We wanted to really use the sounds of the boat in our piece. We recorded ourselves hitting and patting it (using mainly the wood) and mixed them with the metal and glass objects we had brought along. Contrasting. Together making a whole. Then off-course: splicing it with some water.
We chose to only have one single microphone for the recording, placing it in the middle of the room, catching the live feeling of the sounds and the resonance of the room. We had done some pre-work on some of the song structures in the week before the performance, but during the - less than 27 hours - stay in the boat before the actual show we also (except for sampling, sleeping, looking at the view, eating dinner , breakfast, lunch, having a short walk, talking, writing in the log-book, having some wine) did some improvisation that later became two pieces, no. 3 and the beginning of no. 5. Mariam wrote the lyrics while staying on the boat, all based on the observations she made. There was howling wind, a rainbow, sounds from the street, the colours on the buildings during night-time, and the chance to spy on the city and people crossing the bridge with a pair of binoculars...
The still-lifes in between the musical sections are symbolic reflections of the River Thames, floating just below the boat. The sounds accompanying them are also live-recorded, coming straight from the outside of A Room for London.
This was made as a piece for the boat, to be performed inside of it and in London.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums
"When we where asked to contribute to A Room for London it felt like the perfect challenge. The exposed and isolated location of this venue is truly inspiring. This will be our first performance together in 9 months and we will only perform newly written music."
An almost unclassifiable mix of spiritual pop, primal blues and powerful drumming, Sweden’s Wildbirds & Peacedrums are singer Mariam Wallentin and drummer Andreas Werliin.
The pair met in 2004 at Gothenburg’s Academy Of Music And Drama, and married the following year. Frustrated by the institute’s rigid format, Wildbirds & Peacedrums was born of a desire to break free and play music that captures pure, ecstatic feeling. They self-released two limited edition CDRs, before recording their debut album proper, Heartcore, in 2006. With a fiery passion all her own, encompassing moods from heavy spiritual lament to raw gospel exclamation, Mariam’s mercurial talent and breathtaking emotional depth were immediately apparent. Paired with Andreas’ fierce, precise percussion, the package arrived fully formed. The album was released in 2007 by the Swedish Found You Recordings, and subsequently reissued worldwide by The Leaf Label in the spring of 2008.
They were named as 2008’s ‘Jazz In Sweden’ beneficiaries, enabling them to record in a proper studio for the first time. They chose the Soundtrack Of Our Lives-owned Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg to record, disclosing more wild and emotional songs and introducing new sounds, including the Persian santor, steel pan and marimba. The result was their second album, The Snake, which arrived on the Swedish label Caprice. The album was released around the world a year later by The Leaf Label, The Control Group, Contrarede and Haldern Pop. The duo toured their potent live show around the world (including dates with Lykke Li, Arcade Fire, Micachu & The Shapes, Joanna Newsom, Caribou and The Thing, and even as a 20-piece drum circle), playing up to 120 shows a year and building a strong word of mouth reputation.
In early 2010, Mariam and Andreas travelled to Iceland to record two EPs within the space of a month: Retina (which they made with cellist and arranger Hildur Guðnadóttir and the Schola Cantorum Reykjavík Chamber Choir) and the more stripped back Iris, which they recorded in Reykjavík’s Greenhouse Studios with Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurðsson. The EPs were given limited-edition vinyl only releases in May and June of 2010, and were combined as the 2CD Rivers album, released in August of that year.
Around the same time, they were invited to appear as part of the prestigious Polar Music Prize ceremony in Stockholm, performing an extraordinary version of Björk’s ‘Human Behaviour’ with a full orchestra to honour the Icelandic artist.
The duo played a series of shows around Europe with Roundhouse European Choir in attendance (including a memorable night at London’s Union Chapel), following this with further visits to North America (with St Vincent) and Japan. Mariam and Andreas united with the Congolese bands Konono No. 1 and Kasai Allstars, along with Deerhoof, Juana Molina and Skeletons, for the ’Congotronics vs Rockers‘ tour which travelled across Europe and Japan in 2011.
In addition to their work as Wildbirds & Peacedrums, the pair also has a busy extra-curricular schedule. Andreas has performed and recorded with such varied artists as Andrew Bird, Loney Dear and Neneh Cherry. He has continued to appear with Dan Berglund’s Tonbruket, and also with Mats Gustafsson and Johan Berthling (and Jim O’Rourke) as Fire!
Mariam has recorded artists such as with Susanna & The Magical Orchestra, LabField and Lykke Li, and plays in various looser improv/freeform constellations. She is currently working with Lindha Kallerdahl and Anders Jormin. She will present a new work with Mikael Karlsson in New York in 2012.
Mariam and Andreas began work on their fourth album in Stockholm in late 2011.
Sounds from a Room live gigs are in collaboration with the Guardian.