Best Albums of 2020: Woob

Suite 59201/Lost Metropolis (Bigamoebasounds)
Hypersleep 10 (Bigamoebasounds)

Cyberpunk and dystopian science fiction loom large in much of the recent work of British composer Paul Frankland aka Woob. At the quiet end of the spectrum stands the fictional Lost Metropolis Hotel, the thematic core of his album Suite 59201, which I should note has since been deleted, partly reworked and then released again as Lost Metropolis. Either one is fine. The album draws deep from the cyberpunk corner of sci-fi; think Blade Runner, Neuromancer, the Ghost In The Shell animes. Ever the frustrated film student turned musician, Woob imagines a decaying above-below ground building in some noir-ish dystopia where the guests have to fend for themselves. Ridley Scott’s 1982 film in particular – Vangelis’ synth sounds, the spectral sound design, the delicious attention to visual detail – is ingrained in the architecture here. The music is brooding, dark and lush. It does what Woob does best: world building that’s detailed and visceral, yet with plenty left to your imagination. “The Great Hall” is a case in point with its massive spacey chords, icy strings and a throbbing bass underlay. Insert own scene here.

Quite different to his sci-fi noir material is Hypersleep 10, a new compilation of signature Woob moments released late in 2019 to celebrate a decade since the Woob reboot. Unusually, however, the tracks are mostly in remixed, limited or alternative forms, plus there’s a surreal, pitch-wobbling rework of his ambient dub classic “Estarlay” from 1994 (originally made under his Journeyman alias). The album hangs together surprisingly well given its disparate sources, and it’s actually an excellent entry point into latter-day ambient Woob if you’re not familiar with his work since the reboot.

Best Albums of 2020 Reviews Index

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