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As an introduction for the uninitiated, Wildbirds & Peacedrums - a Gothenburg duo comprising married couple Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin - are widely incomparable to other bands, on a fundamental level at least, on the basis that they largely eschew traditional instrumentation in favour of a straightforward, although certainly unconventional, vocals and percussion setup. It's crucial to point out that this is something that in no way seems contrived, or an effort to present themselves as having - and I hate to use this phrase - a unique selling point; they're experimental musicians, and such an unusual take on composition and performance is merely an extension of that fact.

They've taken a while to get around to actually making this fourth full-length; it's been four years since their last, partly owing to Wallentin's solo work under the name Mariam the Believer. If Rhythm sounds like too obvious a moniker, though, for a record that's based around a way of working as singular as the one described above - kind of like if Swans named one of their albums Apocalyptic Riffs - there's a reason behind it; the duo were trying to strip away as much as possible with this album, recorded in their new Stockholm studio, and get back to something like basics for the first time in a while.

The obvious problem that that poses is that it might oversimplify an approach that's hardly creaking under the weight of too many bells and whistles as it is. Rhythm never actually feels all that minimalist, though; on 'Gold Digger', for instance, Wallentin delivers an increasingly frantic vocal over a wall of sound and distortion that belies way it was presumably recorded, whilst standout 'Soft Wind, Soft Death' layers the vocals over clattering drum tracks to make, quite frankly, chaos out of order.

In that respect, at least, Rhythm never feels stale, because the freshness and inventiveness of Wildbirds' approach is something that's pretty much unique; as I said earlier, I can't really think of too many valid points of comparison. One album that does spring to mind, though, is the tUnE-yArDs album that was released earlier in the year; I was considerably less enamoured with Nikki Nack than most reviewers, primarily because I felt there was too much going on, too many ideas suffocating Merrill Garbus' vocals. Rhythm echoes that in places, too, and perhaps it's overcompensation for the fact that the approach is so minimalist; 'Mind Blues' is the sonic equivalent of a bright clash of colours - your ears never know quite what to focus on. It's the case, too, on opener 'Ghosts & Pains'; the vocal tracks overlap in a way that's jarring and distracting.

That's frustrating because there's more good than bad on Rhythm, and when they get it right, they get it really right. 'Keep Some Hope' showcases the strength of Wallentin's soulful vocal, whilst closer 'Everything All the Time' - an ironic title, given the complaints I've just made - is a suitably epic way to bring the curtain down on the album. Like Nikki Nack, then, Rhythm is a collection of great ideas, improperly organised and occasionally poorly executed; I admire Wildbirds & Peacedrums' commitment to a totally different way of working, but I also wonder whether the result is always going to be a little too hectic for my tastes.

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