Before there was Dizraeli, there was…Tom Bombadeal. Is it a coincidence that both artists are connected to the hip-hop scene in Brighton or evidence that there really are ley lines radiating through the English landscape which plug into a major socket round those parts and are now fuelling a burgeoning folk hop massive? Whichever it is, let this LP serve as a warning of what comes of having a toke on a summer’s day in the vicinity of the Long Man Of Wilmington or, as the missus put it, “this is weird music – sounds like it’s from that Wicker Man film.” Inevitably, given that Brighton and folk music are involved, ‘folk-punk’ bores the Levellers make an appearance (well, their fiddle player Steven Boakes does) though (despite expectations) this doesn’t spoil the LP. Neither does the fact that Bombadeal (a.k.a. Tom Caruana aided and abetted by a motley but equally talented crew including Dizraeli and Elemental) raids wholesale the more tripped-out moments from Tolkien’s epic Lord Of The Rings and specifically the character Tom Bombadil – a fat, jolly sort given to talking utter bollocks in rhyme which – as coincidence (again!) would have it – makes him perfect rapper material. In any case, despite all the ‘green man’ antics, the fol-de-rol-ery of this album has its tongue stuffed firmly into its apple-rosy cheek.
What could be irritating is the fact that with thirty five tracks in just over fifty minutes nothing ever seems to last for quite as long as you want it to – a fact recognised on the antsy two minutes of Family Name, “It’s Tom Bomba along yonder/ Some wonder why ain’t the songs longer.” It isn’t a question that seems to get an answer though there are rumours of a ‘proper’ Tom Bombadeal LP to come where this liberty cap-fuelled ADHD might be cured – don’t sleep on that one. Further Into The Woods is basically an agreeable sonic meander through a very English beatscape that (perhaps because of the shortness of tracks and the amiable ambience) you might initially put on as background music though sooner or later you’ll find it creeping it’s way into your forebrain. Take What Is It About The Night for example – a gorgeous acoustic ballad sung by Sadie Jemmett – all of a minute and twelve seconds long, or Growing Up (one minute fifty) where Caruana evinces his knack for a fat beat. Despite the production ADHD however, this is plum full of hooks and beats and as well as drawing heavily from folk and hip-hop there are flashes of ska (Jamboree/ Moon & Sun) and even (at the end of Night Vision) Zeppelinesque rock. It sounded like it was a lot of fun to make. Did I mention that this is a concept album too – probably not or you might have stopped reading earlier but apparently the idea is that Bombadeal’s rural idyll is under attack from crystal miners or something.
To summarise then: Further Into The Woods is an eccentric folk/ hip-hop hybrid concept album, featuring a member of The Levellers (alright – only on one track), that draws creative inspiration from a Tolkien character, where songs rarely reach two minutes in length (and many barely exceed one) with additional linking narrative by what sounds like a combination of Willie Rushton and a pissed up Adge Cutler…I’ll be the first to admit that that looks really bad on paper. It’s so ridiculous you ought to be compelled to give it a shot though and were you to do so you’d find it utterly bizarre in a strange way that is as likely to appeal to beat heads as hippies and children as well as adults and, as such, I am at a loss to describe it as anything other than truly Tolkienesque…Now go on and get your ass down them woods.