When it comes to recording, Jack Wolter is a man of self imposed restrictions. His first release under the Cubzoa moniker, Chlorine, was written and recorded away from home in Portugal and mixed entirely on an iPhone. The result was a lilting, sun damaged snapshot of a particular state of mind and moment in time. At home on the Isle of Man, Wolter’s jams were given a little more breathing room, rounded out with a full band setup for the Aubergine EP. The sound of this follow up, Throw Your Arms Around Me, is even more expansive and belies the box room in Falmouth where it was written and committed to tape.
Originally intended as demos to be re-recorded and then released, ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ kicks off, not unlike ‘Aubergine’, with a lively guitar riff. Whereas ‘Hey Fool’ stutters and stalls as Wolter’s vocals enter, ‘Camera‘s steady strut is maintained throughout with a superbly twanging guitar hook, pulsing backing harmonies and subtle keys. The whole feel of the track is something akin to a lo-fi Metronomy, neither ‘Camera‘ or the cinematic “French Exit” would sound particularly out of place on ‘The English Riviera’.
Perhaps the most surprising moment of the EP comes at the end of “People Say“. The jarring, discordant notes from Wolter’s guitar that bubble under the surface finally come to the fore as the track breaks down into forty seconds of the kind of industrial noise-rock normally disseminated by the likes of Daughter. It’s certainly not the best moment of the EP or by any means the most representative, but it serves to confirm two things: firstly, that the confines of that tiny room in Falmouth, or wherever he chooses to make music for that matter, hold no limit to the racket he can make. Secondly, that he’s not afraid to pursue these instrumental tangents. This is an added dimension to Cubzoa and an exciting prospect if he gets round to expanding his live incarnation to a full band.
It’s also a testament to his craft of composition that the cacophony that punctuates the end of “People Say” immediately accedes to the soulful, lounge room jazz of “Days”. “Riding the Gnarbone” is a mixture of the drive of alternative Americana and the melodic sensibility of recent British indie. The latter is particularly pertinent to Wolter, stating that the the title of the EP is his way of paying tribute to the ten year anniversary of one of his favourite albums, ‘Silent Alarm’. Bloc Party might not be the first reference that comes to mind when taking in his body of work as a whole but the influence of ‘This Modern Love‘s chiming guitars and motorik drumming is easy to spot.
The download version of the album includes the acoustic closing track ‘Tired’, which ends the EP on a suitably sleepy note that is more sonically familiar territory. The sheer breadth of ideas packed into the six song EP is credible in itself but Throw Your Arms Around Me also shows a real progression for Wolter who is becoming something of a virtuoso when it comes to getting the most out of his recording environment, wherever that may be.