Thursday, October 25, 2012

Josh Mason/Nathan McLaughlin - 3440 (TD56)

a transcendent listening experience.  This nug is for Josh, Nathan and Eric.  peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

Every once in a while, a tape blows your mind to the extent that one desires to delve deeply, becoming ensconced to study its glistening beauty. On 3440, the split release from Josh Mason and Nathan McLaughlin on Eric Hardiman's stellar Tape Drift, both artists adeptly demonstrate their ability to craft fastidious, minimal works of art by utilizing space, restraint and texture among other qualities.  Both artists use the Teac 3440 reel-to-reel machine in their work, and this release is a tribute to the technology that imbues their art with a palpable feeling.

Some of you may be familiar with Josh Mason from his work as a curator of the excellent, but on hiatus, Sunshine Ltd.  Quite simply put, this is some of the most beautiful music you will hear this year.  And, with confidence i will assert that these tracks - compared to his sublime Sunshine releases - are the best to date.  His minimal, warm ambient hymns provide a gentle contour to the crackling leaves of autumn.  After copious listens, this is possibly the sound of a minimal High Llamas, circa Buzzle Bee.  By the way, the High Llamas are one of my favorite musical groups, and this statement is intended to be perceived as the highest of compliments.  Mason's side commences with a gentle, warm, bucolic vibe as diffuse, elongated blue tones are given room to traverse the environment.  In this release, a background noise reminiscent of the Mason/Smyth Outcroppings tape is present.  The noise perfectly coalesces with Josh's patient, vivid tones.  On the second track, the textures are different. Thick tones bellow, oscillate, ascend and then tumble to earth.  Of all three tracks, this one is my favorite - elegant, intimate and poignant.  The third track  is replete with melancholic tones to grace the dubious moon.  I often listen to this track at night; the tones shimmer in the energy bequeathed by the radiant moonlight and navy blue sky.  Unequivocally, an outstanding side of music.

It has been a fecund year for Nathan McLaughlin.  Along with his excellent lp on Senfuo Editions, Loud and Sad has just released a beautiful tape on Cae-Sur-a; a self-released companion lathe; and soon, an lp on Greenup.  His side of music is a wonderful example of one who is meticulous in their compositions.  It's quite pleasurable to study the sounds and sources that Nathan employs and the shape of his compositions.  Though the tape states that there are three separate tracks on this side, I experienced it as side-long piece of music.  As a curious energy swirls, plucked banjo strings stir in the ominous noise, defined by inchoate pulses that circumscribe the banjo.  Gradually, the noise begins to envelop the strings as squiggles of sound, reminiscent of an instrument used by Airto Moreira, join the pulsing noise.  With the banjo temporarily grounded, lovely noise - not heavy by any means - covers the expanse.  Soon, Nathan introduces fragments of bellowing, bluesy MV like guitar tones.  Further in the track, it feels like traversing an uncertain environment, as dark rhythms are underlined by a barely perceptible drone - quite beautiful!    And later, the faint rustling of strings becomes ensconced in emergent noise.

3440 is an example of a split tape done properly.  One of the highlights of the year, secure your copy via Tape Drift!

peace and love, friends :)