Wisdom of Crowds is a project created by Bruce Soord, frontman of British progressive rock band The Pineapple Thief and Jonas Renkse, lead vocalist of Swedish metal band Katatonia. When I first heard about this collaboration, I was slightly surprised. Yes, there have been several projects in the past featuring artists from different bands and backgrounds (one notable and recent example being Storm Corrosion by Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt and Steven Wilson); and Jonas Renkse has done guest vocals for other bands a few times. But this was kind of unexpected, hence my eagerness to listen to the duo’s musical output.
Like most people, I’ve associated Renkse’s voice with a heavier and much more depressing type of sound, so it was a bit of a challenge to listen to his voice in a slightly ‘happier’ – although still quite melancholic – setting. After listening to this, there’s no doubt that his wonderful vocals can fit to any style of music. Furthermore, Bruce Soord is admittedly a very good songwriter and musician and it shows throughout the album, as his compositions, tailored to Renkse’s voice, are very intriguing. So the end result couldn’t be anything less than great.
However, the first couple of times I listened to the album, I was slightly annoyed by the electronic effects and beats because I really thought they didn’t fit with the music. After a few more listens though I slowly got used to them, and I do not really mind them anymore, but I still feel that some of those sound effects are a bit overused at times. Take ‘Frozen North’ for example, the lead track off the album, which starts off promisingly with the acoustic guitars and the strings, and builds up quite nicely, but is spoiled half-way through by the sound effects which serve no purpose whatsoever and are totally out of place. To be fair, though, there are tracks where the sound effects and synths are quite fitting, such as ‘The Light’ and ‘Pleasure’.
In spite of my occasional irritation with the musical arrangement, this is by no means a bad album. Beautiful, atmospheric and hypnotic, Wisdom of Crowds is an album worth a listen, because it has something fresh and interesting to offer to fans of rock music. It might put off some people at first, but it gets better and better with every listen. I would not mind if the two decide to do a follow-up at some point (but with less sound effects next time, please) as it is always fascinating and refreshing when people from different musical backgrounds come together and create something unique.
Wisdom of Crowds will play on June 24th alongside Amplifier, Nosound and Henry Fool, as part of Kscope’s 5th anniversary shows, at The Garage in London, UK. If you happen to live nearby don’t miss this rare chance to experience the band’s first live appearance. More details here.
Wisdom of Crowds will be released on June 3rd 2013.
2. Wisdom Of Crowds
3. Radio Star
4. Frozen North
5. The Light
6. Stacked Naked Pretend
7. Centre Of Gravity
8. Flows Through You