As a geological term, lamina (plural : laminae) means a a layer of sediment or sedimentary rock less than a centimeter in thickness. It's something that can stay unnoticed if you don't look with care. It's exactly what happens with “Laminae”, second full length by Michael Cottone, a graphic designer and sound artist based in Michigan.
It's beautiful, subtle and sensitive, but the permanent intention seams to never leave the ambient status, to stay unnoticed, like vapor above a landscape. The Green Kingdom escapes easy categorization, and it could be transparent but it's not, it's translucence and dissolution.
It takes time to decode this record – as it surely took time to be composed -, to go behind the apparent neutrality of quietude. “Laminae” contains six tracks for 44 minutes, using analog instruments, digital sounds and field recordings.
Michael Cottone explains the process behind the songs : “As in nature, they have evolved over the last couple years through several cycles of processing, addition and subtraction. Some began as more structured compositions, but over time as the melodies began to blur, interesting relationships developed when these "sound strata" were combined, removed or revealed.”
The danger is to lose the spontaneity, or to produce something faded and this second case is sometimes what happens on ”Laminae” : “Late Summer”, the opening track is nice and vibrant but says nothing, simply develops itself and maintains the illusion throughout. “The Scarlet Ibis” starts nicely with a nostalgic vibe but a progressive dilution make you lose the thread.
“Fuji Apple” is somewhere in the middle and is a perfect soundtrack, dreamy but not invasive, smooth but accentuated but needing something visual to be completely effective.
Oppositely, “A Hidden Stream” is a flowering, glowing sunrays on spring flowers. It's warm, sensitive, close to the best Sawako tracks, an affair of lights, “Indigo Afternoon” mimics the atmosphere of late afternoon summer rain in a green landscape, perfect time for taking a nap in some shelter, and on “Ume” everything progresses softly with soft impressionist touches, deeply appeasing.
“Laminae” is a nice ambient work for The Green Kingdom, you really feels that Michael Cottone tries to push the limits and to develop some warm and organic soundscapes with a kind of intimate and sensitive quality.