17 December 2010

The Green Kingdom - twig and twine (2009, Own Records)

Each new release by Michael Cottone (from Detroit, Michigan) finds a home on a new label so far and "Twig and Twine" is no exception.

Along the way, his instrumental ambient music, mixing electronic and acoustic instruments isn't changing much, only slowly evolving towards higher degrees of refinement.

Own Records's release sheet tentatively advances similarities with artist like Mountains, Shuttle358 / Fenton, The Boats, Sawako and Harold Budd. This selection of names circumscribes the nature and achievement of "Twig and Twine", and gives light to this impression of smooth angles which defines his music here.

If you're familiar with these artists, there will be nothing particularly new or innovative on this record, you'll feel at home and relaxed, quieted down and invited to slow down your activities, falling in a state of mellow melancholy, half-dreaming, half conscious.  

On "Twig and Twine", Michael Cottone never imposes intensity and more surely tries to avoid such directions, most of these tracks are walking on the fragile limit between lack of focus and subtle fleeting feelings, evolving into this gray zone where your mood will finally make you enjoy or no this record.

There is a strange contradiction with this record. Its main purpose seems to dilute attention when the beauty contained required a perfect concentration towards the detail. Opening track, "Into the magic night" is particularly delicate, with a nice melancholic guitar and it sounds like a beautiful appetizer for the minimal "Autumn Eyes" featuring acoustic guitar and strings like a quieter ambient version of Dirty Three. 

Different setup for a more textured "The Promise of Spring", pulsing drone sounds in the backgrounds, some clicks and various organic elements mixed together to create a blurry soundscape which finally sounds more confuse than adventurous. "Crystal Window" plays around a childlike fragmentary melody but lacks of urgency or direction.

Much more narrative is "Maplecopter" with a beat recalling decided footsteps while the other sonorities build monotonous bitter landscapes and an atmosphere of melancholic rainy days.  "What Birds See" looks much more like an interlude than as the haunted track it could have been. 

More interesting are the nicely indolent "Orange Saturday Morning",  or the divagating "River Bends Park" which seems to reflects the artwork picture and follows a stream of thoughts into dub-like à la Pan American. "Twig and Twine" finally closes on the hopeful and mildly euphoric "The Green Bridge".
There are nice moments on this album but it lacks of a cohesiveness and of definite directions, after having listened to this album fifteen times  I haven't built a clear idea of it.

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