Psychedelic dream weavers Thought Bubble are back with a new album. Weaving is the follow up to their 2022 release Nowhere and this time is being released through the ever-amazing Woodford Halse label. Thought Bubble, as you’ll remember, are keyboardist Chris Cordwell and percussionist Nick Raybould. They create a colourful soundscape based around luscious synth patterns and varied percussive instruments.
On Nowhere the band were processing the aftermath of Raybould’s lifesaving heart surgery. I asked the band what informed the recording of this set of songs.
“Some of these tracks were recorded during a very testing two-year period, where, despite living in fairly close proximity to each other in the Shropshire hills, we were separated by that original Covid-19 wave. And then, when one of us was diagnosed with something more serious, we had to resort to isolation for even longer.”
“This is another album created mainly via remote recording, from our own home studios. That’s when some of the darker and eccentric weaving patterns on these tracks presented themselves. Anyway, that’s more than enough explanation. The listener and their imagination should perhaps interpret these tracks beyond the starting point we have provided here.”
Its time to lie back, put the headphones on and let Thought Bubble take us away.
The album opens on the feedback squalls of ‘Plasma Playpen’. This cosmic shuffle takes us on a paranoid trip to the outermost corners of our imaginations. Like that episode of the X-Files that had nothing to do with aliens but some weird happening or other. It’s a great opener and sets us up nicely.
What do sounds do? ‘Sounds Affect’ is the answer and Thought Bubble are making their point well here. There’s a flavour of eastern promise and desert journeys at dusk. Raybould’s percussion and drumming driving us along on our way. Synth strings sweep us off our feet and excite our senses. This is a prime example of why I love this band. They vividly conjure images in your mind, and so readily too.
Flipping the story, in comes ‘Sloping’ an ambling giant with a mile wide stride. Cordwell is firmly in charge here and uses his synths to paint a sonic canvas so wide and deep it totally consumes you as a listener. Drums adding their punctuation to the story in a really sympathetic way. It really speaks to the unwritten communication these two guys have.
We head off into our dreams next with ‘Sound Asleep’, but it’s a restless slumber for us. That nervous twitch that’s part of the DNA of Thought Bubbles music captures our attention. The piano dances around us prodding and poking our senses. Making sure we’re still paying attention. Really clever stuff is this!!
‘200 Teeth’ harks back to Nowhere in its structure and tone. Guest guitarist Shaun Baily from ambient electronica outfit MonkeyTrial makes his triumphant return. He brings another texture to the album, a freedom that is the natural reflection of the boys locked tight tone.
Another collaborator paints his psychedelic flourishes on ‘Pondlife’. Sonic explorer Shankara Andy Bole brings his deft touches to the party and man, this track soars. It feels like a spaced-out raga or cosmic Bedouin band. Amongst all this there’s this almost p-funk bassline going on. How this all works together I don’t understand but it just does.
‘Adjust Your Soul’ introduces the golden tones of actress Julia Binns. This feels like an eighties style ballad but skewed through that anxious Thought Bubble lens. When the band pause to allow space to hear Binns voice for a moment its like they pull back the musical curtain, just for a second or two. It’s only momentary as we’re soon back into their many textured world.
The album closes on the two-part epic that is ‘Indelible’. The opening half has this call and response synth part that carries that trademark nervous energy. It’s a slow driven intro which makes the second half so impactful when it arrives. Drums and Bass in perfect sympatico, picking up the pace and morphing this track into something cosmically uplifting.
Thought Bubble are a one of those unique bands. You know it’s them after only hearing a few seconds of a track. Not many bands can claim that. Each album has transported me off in my imagination and had me smiling ear to ear and Weaving is no exception. I keep having to remind myself that this is only two guys! The broad sound stage they create is so impressive as it gives us so much to explore as listeners. If this is your introduction to the world of Thought Bubble then I envy you. You have the journey of a lifetime ahead of you.
Weaving will be released by Woodford Halse on 1stJune 2023 on cassette and digitally via their Bandcamp page.
You can follow Though Bubble on social media here……