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Brian Woodbury — Rhapsody & Filigree
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-08-14

Rhapsody & Filigree Cover art

The first three volumes of Woodbury’s Anthems & Antithets quadrilogy appeared way back in 2020 (those would be Levity & Novelty (February 2020), Balladry & Soliloquy (July 2020), and Antipathy & Ideology (December 2020)), so one would figure that the fourth volume should have been out sometime in early 2021, but the entire year passed without an update. Maybe Woodbury gave up on the idea of four volumes? I mean each of those really were difficult and complex endeavors, the pan-genre approach with clever and witty lyrics keeping the listener always engaged is not an easy task. I just needed more patience it seems, for here seven months into 2022 the long awaited fourth volume, Rhapsody & Filigree, finally appears, and it was certainly worth the wait. Like the three before it, the fourth volume features no less than thirty-seven guest musicians! In addition to writing or co-writing and arranging all eighteen tracks, Woodbury is credited with vocals, guitars, bass, piano, keyboards, synths, percussion, autoharp, kalimba, ukelele, and programming; but he knows exactly how he wants a piece to sound, so if that means bringing in additional players and singers to make that happen, so be it. And then there are all the instruments that Woodbury doesn’t play, like violins, oboe, english horn, trumpet, banjo, mandolin, tuba, and drums… it’s a long list of credits, everything track depending, but listed in exhaustive detail in the liner notes. Some of the guests have appeared on the earlier volumes, like Naomi Adele Smith, Johnny Unicorn, and many others, and some guests that every Exposé reader should know, like Bob Drake, Amy Denio, Chris Cutler. And how about this guy: Dr. Brian W. Woodbury (trombones), there’s even a song about him here: “The Other Brian Woodbury.” If the opening nine-plus minute genre-hopper “Thesus Rex,” a constant stream of ever-changing ideas of mindblowing complexity with a variety of singers and players on hand to pull it off, doesn’t impress the listener sufficiently, then maybe jump all the way to the closer “Brief Mass,” a near eight-minute Catholic mass — in Latin, beautifully arranged for piano, drums, tuned percussion, trombone, numerous vocalists, and more. Those two bookend sixteen other outstanding cuts that are in many ways equally impressive, like “How Soon We Forget, How Long We Remember,” “Two Halves,” “Diletante,” “The Golden Hour,” and “Murderer” just for starters. On the whole, Zappa and Godley & Creme comparisons notwithstanding, Rhapsody & Filigree is nothing short of brilliant on any number of levels.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Chris Cutler, Johnny Unicorn, Amy Denio, Bob Drake, Brian Woodbury

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