Secret Meeting score: 72
by Phil Scarisbrick
The idea that once a song is mixed, mastered and then released means that it is finished is a trope that has been taken as a given for decades. Sometimes, artists will break that cycle and look to continue a song’s evolution until they find that creative sweet spot. For some, it is simply an alternative arrangement that they use for live performance as a way to either refresh old material, or make it fit with whatever music they’re creating at that time. Others though delve deeper into their back catalogues and create whole new records based around it. Will Oldham has released two albums of reworked tracks since his last that was made up of completely new material, with another on the way. Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo’s online-only release enabled him to constantly tweak and refine the material, even once it was out in the world.
Former Kill Laura and Misty Dixon member, Jane Weaver, has spent the last couple of decades establishing herself as a solo artist- gaining a strong cult following. Her blend of psychedelic folk and krautrock stylings crystallised on 2014’s The Silver Globe, with Modern Kosmology building on this three years later. Now she has returned with a new record that is a collection of re-workings of songs from her back catalogue – mainly from these two records – segued with new, original instrumentals.
Loops in the Secret Society is an odd proposition at times. The new versions appear more metronomic and synth-heavy than the originals with varying levels of success. By success of course, I merely mean the difference between original and new being tangible and an improvement. Songs such as H>A>K and Did You See The Butterflies? from Modern Kosmology have negligible alterations- the former seeing its bass being given a lighter sound, while the latter has a much bigger beat. In both cases, the new versions are just as good as the originals, but without being too different.
Some of the versions here though do get retrofitted with profoundly different sounds. I Wish now broods with its off-piste synth and added rhythm guitar. Slow Motion is stripped down to give a more affecting feel, with the lyrics – “Sometimes everything’s amazing/Then silence reminds us we are lost,” as poignant as ever.
This album then will likely be lapped up by Weaver aficionados who will devour any new material they can lay their hands on, with the eleven instrumental segues constituting the nearest this album has in terms of completely ‘new’. There is more than enough here to get stuck into though, and will be just as likely to win new fans to her burgeoning brood. It also proves once again that a song can continue to grow, even once it has been unleashed on the world.