Patrick Wolf

Patrick Wolf
Multi-instrumentalist Patrick Wolf’s debut album, 2003’s Lycanthropy, was a difficult record to digest. Though it was remarkably fresh in its embrace of both electronics and acoustics, the ebb and flow of the arrangements, along with his chillingly frank lyrics, made it one of those records you appreciate more than you adore. With a handful of praise behind him and all of the potential in the world, Wolf departed his London abode and wandered into the Cornwall countryside for some new inspiration. Wind in the Wires makes an immediate connection, drawing you in with the opening track and first single "The Libertine.” With its horse-hoof-pulsating, almost danceable drumbeat, the troubadour spits his tale amidst some gloriously disorienting Eastern-tinged violins. At the other end, the closing "Lands End,” Wolf pulls out a melodious ukulele to guide a detailed account of his rural retreat. His natural talent is for heart-breaking ballads (the title track, "The Gypsy King,” "Eulogy”), but when he throws a braggadocio into the mix on the noisy, grinding beat-driven "Tristan,” like his song’s subject, he really comes alive. With a gothic lyrical texture that recalls Nick Cave’s bleak ballads, a brogue that wanders between swooning sopranos and assertive deep croons, and an unpredictable pattern of pop, folk and electronica, Wind has found that niche for Wolf where true pop eccentrics — like Björk, Kate Bush and Scott Walker — can flourish in the finicky mainstream.

What made you decide to do produce and perform the entire album on your own? I work best as a solo artist, but I’ve slowly learned to work with other people. Even though there were people on the first record, I was very much cracking a whip over them. Maybe they felt the strains of that, so they disappeared. I was left on my own with my instruments and came back to a self-sufficient level and tried communicating from a strong-centred place. I’m in a better place to work with other people now.

Is there a primary instrument you write your music with? I think I basically take holidays from different instruments. If I’m feeling too piano-centric one day I’ll switch to a viola the next. I never get tired of sound, and I just slip from one to the other. I have a Finnish zither that will kind of inspire a particular emotion and the viola will inspire a different kind of heartstring in me; the piano can develop another lyric that I wrote a year ago. It’s all an ongoing process kind of encyclopaedia.