07 January 2011

The Green Kingdom - prismatic (2010, Home Assembly)

New album and, once again, new label for Michael Cottone, this time with a bonus remix CD (The Boats, The Declining Winter, Part-Timer, Northerner, Inch-Time and Bvdub).

While his previous record, "Twig & Twine" left me wanting a more definite direction, "Prismatic" fills me delight. Sounding even more refined than is previous works, it is both more comfortable and more atmospheric, the ambient background is stronger than never but you are fulfilled with fragments of melody.

The artwork depicts perfectly the ambition of "Prismatic",  a long walk in the nature, one late summer day, under a grey sky so the sun isn't hitting too much but with enough of this luminosity to give a glow to everything.  No pressure, maybe some distant sounds of cars, trains or planes but not the animosity of crowded areas. It's peaceful, it's pastoral, welcoming.

Though it's not the same type of music, the use of synth sounds  and their immersive melancholy of rainy days reminds me strangely of the strength of the two first Blue Nile albums - mostly on "Claude's Ghost" and on "Radiance Reflected" -, besides his usual references which are Dan Abrams (Fenton, Shuttle 358), Sawako or Harold Budd

As emblematic of the style, these compositions are devoid of linear or two obvious structures, they exist intuitively in space and slowly unfold and drift, contaminating with both a sense of melancholy and nostalgia and a feeing of warmth and renewal, knowing there is a spring corresponding to each autumn after the delusions and losses of winter.

"Bonfire (Intro)" is like taking elevators to a peaceful environment, you're inside a cabin, with the distant sound of machinery and air-conditioning while your mind is already picturing the destination.
"Bells And Thoughts"is just what the title includes, soft hesitant beats around chiming sounds nicely intimate and comforting.

Beyond the Blue Nile reference, "Claude's Ghost" is a new development in the writing of Michael Cottone, as we become strangely closer at times to this kind of instillation found on the last Talk Talk album or on the more atmospheric side of Hood. While still in ambient territory, this track is definitely more constructed and we feel a kind of narrative path, an emotional travelling. This is one of the highlight of this new record, with the next track. I really wouldn't be surprised to hear vocals of Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile) on "Radiance Reflected", as better than no one before Michael Cottone captures a similar moving heart beating melody.

"The Largest Creature That Has Ever Existed" would be an abstract reverie, walking in a deserted museum, while it rains outside, beneath the vertebrae and bones of an ancient gigantic whale. Th summer warmth and subtle delicacy of "Woven" reminds me of Sawako mostly. The use of cello, piano and field recordings on "Wetlands" evokes an ambient electronic sublimation and crystallization of common territories between Hood and Empress. 

Waking up suddenly in the middle of the night, with the elliptical "Thoughts And Bells (3.07 am dub)", drinking a glass of water in the kitchen before returning quietly to sleep.  On "Bonfire (Tec)", The Green Kingdom renews with a certain ideal of ambient music, setting up a nice and comfortable background, to recover and find peace after a long stressful day, with a glass of red wine and sleepy eyes, close to embrace a nap. Celestial and reverberated piano on "A Prayer",  we are floating between dream and wonder.

Michael Cottone revolutionizes nothing with his music but his sensitivity and softness are really addictive and each of his albums offers new seductive layers and hours of well-being.

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