Album cover for Maze of Woods by Inventions.

Inventions – Maze of Woods

Kieran O’Keefe takes a wander through Inventions’ Maze of Woods.

Where was I? Maze of Woods. The cover art of Inventions’ latest shows a figure – tent pitched – intent on exploring, of reaching out to new horizons, but somehow reticent on what’s out in the grey void, where to go next. The record label point to the closing of Denis Johnson’s novella Train Dreams as a key influence – including the description of “the nonverbal howl of a feral wolf boy, a pre-language that is yearning and instinctual; a statement of wordless distress and love”.

Maze of Woods is music for landscape you cannot quite make out. It’s music to lose your way to.

Maze of Woods does seem to have this as a guiding principal. With little in the way of vocals to signpost the way, ‘Escapers’ opens with a sample that seems placed with intent: “I wanted to do something that I don’t know how to do…and…be a limited struggling human being.” From the irregular-beating opener, into ‘Springworlds’, abstract soundings, lush strains open behind a steadier pulse washing over us briefly before fading.

Inventions’ 2014 debut LP created the space and textures of a more straightforward ambient affair. Maze… shows progress, bringing influence from both Cooper and Smith’s day-jobs: borrowing its warped sense of timing from Eluvium, and adding tension from the start of an Explosions in the Sky track (and skipping the usual wig-out release).

At times I feel there’s a snowstorm rising and calming throughout. A clear moment appears, then fades. Through haze, you blink twice and stare a little more intently, making out distinctions between songs that at times recall each other. When a song seems obscured midway through, you realize that’s the point – the breakdown, loss of focus, is what we are here to observe.

The closing track offers some uplift: choral voices find some space, then are obscured by an ominously thudding beat, ultimately constricted by unforgiving dense tones crashing against us, demanding our attention before again receding.

Maze of Woods is music for landscape you cannot quite make out. It’s music to lose your way to. Let’s get lost.

Maze of Woods is available from all good record shops.

About Kieran O'Keefe

Kieran O'Keefe is a Cork-based reviewer.