Review of Wood, Winter, Hollow [12k1075]

Tokafi (.COM)

Contrary to popular belief, humans are not primarily a visual species. Instead, it is our sense of hearing which provides us with the truly vital information required to orientate ourselves in a space – in his book The Great Animal Orchestra, field recording legend Bernie Krause convincingly demonstrates how listening to a site can reveal a lot more about its health and biodiversity than the eye could possibly take in. As <i>Wood, Winter, Hollow</i> now proves, the same goes for the relationship between music and other forms of art.

The outcome of three days spent on the trail in a vast natural reserve close to Taylor Deupree’s studio, this is folk in the original meaning of the term, music dealing with the relationship between man and his immediate surroundings, with the mystery and beauty of nature as well as the search for a sense of belonging. Seaworthy’s Cameron Webb is gently picking his guitar and banjo, Deupree is filling up the spaces between the notes with luminous drones and glockenspiel and the resulting compositions are placed right in the middle of field recordings of distant wind and quiet creeks, as though the artists were performing a concert for a frozen forest. There is a palpable sense of stillness, wonder and being overwhelmed, notes dancing weightlessly in mid-air like snowflakes, the arrangements akin to ice sculptures glistening in the winter sun.

There is no sharply delineated border between natural sounds and man-made art here, the music emerging from the environment and receding back into it as though it were part of the geophony. And yet, every single note has been placed with utmost precision. The opening and closing tracks, built on tender cyclical chord progressions, are clearly organised compositions laying down an affective foundation; two pure field recording tracks provide for a sense of location; and at the heart of the journey, a sixteen minute long, loosely structured ambient meditation marks the moment when the mind starts to wander and become one with the woods.

The condensing of days into minutes, of a multitude of impressions into a single shape is the domain of the arts in general. But even the stunning photography on the cover and inside the booklet couldn’t come close to conveying a similarly intense and precise impression as these sounds. After all, this is not just a documentation, but an emotional journey. And these are the places only music can take you to.

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