Review of Wood, Winter, Hollow [12k1075]

Textura (CA)

Seaworthy (Cameron Webb) and Taylor Deupree would seem to be such natural bedfellows, it comes as something of a surprise to learn that <i>Wood, Winter, Hollow</i> is their first full-length collaborative effort. And the forty-minute recording is a collaboration in the truest sense, as Webb traveled from his native Australia to work with Deupree during a snow-cold February in New York in place of the by now common practice of long-distance file exchange. To create the album, the two spent three days recording sounds at a 4,000-acre nature preserve near Deupree’s studio called Ward Pound Ridge, a locale teeming with plant and animal life, and then shaped the material into Wood, Winter, Hollow during evenings at the 12k studio.

The photograph of wintry woods on the album cover was thus no arbitrary choice, as it directly reflects the setting that provided Webb and Deupree with both inspiration and raw material. The recording is structured in an interesting way, too, with three tracks featuring musical instruments—Webb credited with nylon string guitar, E-bow, field recordings (including hydrophones placed within streams), and noises, and Deupree loops, effects, E-bow, Jupiter-8, and percussion—separated by two short field recordings-based interludes. Wood, Winter, Hollow is thus also a collaboration in another sense, one involving the musicians interacting with the sounds of the winter forest. If there is a main instrument, it’s Webb’s nylon string guitar, which is often multi-layered and presented in such a way as to simulate the live interplay of two guitar players. It’s hardly the only instrument sound, however, as synthesizer, bells, glockenspiel, and melodica also contribute significantly to the overall sound fabric.

Wrapped in the atmospheric textures of outdoors field recording details, “Wood” establishes the recording’s mood in its unhurried presentation of contemplative guitar musings, ambient electronics, and soft glockenspiel tinklings. The setting seeps into the track subtly as an omnipresent rustle of leaves blown by winter winds accompanied by the flow of a nearby ice-covered stream. Musical elements are largely stripped away from “February 21, 2013” and “February 22, 2013” to allow the environmental details to assert themselves in their purest form. The longer settings “Winter” and “Hollow” (sixteen and eleven minutes, respectively) perpetuate the meditative character of the opener, but the material never drags for unfolding in such measured manner. On the contrary, the album constantly stimulates the senses with its abundant flow of natural and man-made detail.

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