Review of Wood, Winter, Hollow [12k1075]

Brainwashed (US)

Even though 12k head Taylor Deupree has made it a point in recent years to focus on face-to-face collaborations (as opposed to file swapping), the two most recent products of this have their own distinct sense of isolation and loneliness to them. With Cameron Webb’s Seaworthy, it is literal: the record perfectly captures the feeling of being alone in the woods with only an acoustic guitar present. With legendary artist Ryuichi Sakamoto, it is more of an implied, intimate and hushed loneliness via muted tones and extended ambience.

<i>Wood, Winter, Hollow</i> is the most organic and stripped down of these two projects, with untreated field recordings interspersed between the three long pieces. Recorded during the winter in a New York nature reserve after Hurricane Sandy, the constant sound of snapping branches conjures the disarray of the area perfectly. With the absence of animal life due to the season, there is a cold isolation prominent throughout.

These recordings make their way into the three compositions reflected in the title. “Wood” sounds like riverside recordings, with heavy emphasis on acoustic guitar that may have only the slightest of processing and treatment to them. The electronic influence is a little more prevalent on “Winter”, with some ever so slight pitch bending and intentional digital clipping to offset the guitar. What might be a soft passage of electronics (or electronically treated organic instrumentation) cautiously underscores everything, even when it ends in an uncharacteristically lo-fi collapse.

“Hollow” turns up some bells to be paired alongside the guitar, with what may be actual analog synths making themselves known, even with the more aggressive field recordings. The latter moments become surprisingly raw and chaotic, given the otherwise restrained nature of the album, but then end in a quiet, tranquil moment.

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