Days after announcing his amicable departure from Vampire Weekend, Rostam Batmanglij released a ‘new’ single called “Wood,” along with a short story about how the song came to be. I hesitate to call the song new because it has been hiding on SoundCloud and Youtube since 2011.
After Rostam tweeted out the link, I gave it a listen and immediately fell in love.
“Wood” is one of those songs that I will remember exactly where I was when I first heard it. It was Friday, January 29th at about 2:30. I was at work and pretty busy, trying to finish everything up before the weekend but my fucking day stopped the second the song started playing. It just took my breathe away and instantly moved me in a deeply emotional way.
In his post, Rostam says that he began writing the song 8 years ago by putting beats together on a flight and you could hear that in the song. I am familiar with producing music/beats on a computer in the sense that one of my old roommates is both good and proficient at putting together tracks (shouts to Jaron Parham). The way the song begins so simply by setting the beat and adding layers as it continues reminds me of sitting on a couch listening to Jaron put tracks together. In the same way, I found familiarity in the way much of the music is stripped away when the vocals start in.
While the familiarity I feel to Rostam’s creative process may contribute to my emotional reaction, I think much of it stems from “Wood” feeling so intensely personal. The song almost seems as if you are witnessing something private. After much of the backing instrumentals fade away, Rostam sings the opening line “Sunlight on your eyes / you were sleeping.” The softness of his voice makes it sound like he is muttering the words to a person laying right next to him. You can sense the weight in his words.
Later in the song, the instruments are stripped away once more to allow a solo played on a 12-string guitar in a way that makes it sound like sitar, as Rostam describes “like the Persian music [he] grew up listening to.” Following the solo, the violin comes back in, racing as a heart does when seeing the one you love. Finally, Rostam triumphantly sings a chorus of “Oh Oh Ohhh Ohhh Oh Oh” over a cacophony of drums and classical string. For that reason, the last minute of the song just feels like a total celebration of love.
“Wood” is a near perfect song, beautiful both in creatively and meaning.
By Matt Atwell
Photo from http://www.flickr.com