The Music Fellowship is a small label out of
New Haven, Connecticut, a town in which it rains constantly
when i visit. The music this label puts out is best described
as "drone", which means that it is the analog equivalent of
ambient electronica. I have reviewed some of their bands before
& Carl, Yellow6),
but have not actually reviewed any of their releases. Which
is strange, because when i look at their website
i see that i own quite a few of the things this label has released.
New Found Land is the first release in their
current Triptych Series ("triptych" is an artsy term for "trinity"
or "threesome" or "menage a trois"), and it makes
for one damned fine ambient listening experience. All three
bands featured here turn in some remarkable tunage, and overall
the flow between the three bands works.
And it is the flow which is really the key to making any multi-band
compilation work. The album starts with the guitar wanderings
of Yellow6, which fade into the minimalist droning of Rothko,
which fade into the light abstract pop of Landing. It's a beautiful
sequence, and the music all really works well together. There
is just enough contrast that you know when you have transitioned
from one artist to the next without looking at the track number
on the CD player, and there is enough similarity that if you
are sitting, lost in thought, the differences in sonic stylings
doesn't force themselves into your awareness.
The Yellow6 tunes in particular are great. Each track is, seemingly,
better then the last, and i sit entranced by this music. I can
barely describe it: chiming layers of echoing guitars over beats
and synthesized drones. I am fairly certain that Yellow6 is
one guy with a guitar, a ton of pedals, and a laptop. And yet
-- the end result is lovely and deep, and i can sit listening
to it over and over again. There is so much depth to this music
that it is easy to get lost in it. Yellow6 standouts on New
Found Land include the Victorialand-esque
Silhouette, and the fuzzy, sleighbell guided ambience
The Rothko portion of the disc is a suite called Halftones
and Metatones - From 1 to 7. At first, this piece always
reminds me of Boards of Canada
-- it starts with a silly little sample that sounds like it
was taken from a kids toy, and then proceeds with a low rumbling
drone atop sparse, stuttering radio samples. I keep expecting
a funky breakbeat to come in, and, i have to admit, i am somewhat
disappointed when it doesn't.
Rothko's work always seems more interesting intellectually
than it is sonically to me. That is, there is a lot of thought
on the nature of art and sound that goes into the music, and
i respect that. On the other hand, they completely fail to "rock",
and that is somewhat problematic as well. Sure, they create
some interesting sonic textures (in particular i like the sparse
ringing notes of the second part of this suite), but i always
wish there was more to the music.
Still, in the context of this triptych i find that the piece
works very well. Rothko is the minimalist cream filling sandwiched
between the crunchy dreampop cookie of Yellow6 and the moist
cakelike psychedelia of Landing. which makes this album into
some sort of twinkie-oreo hybrid -- and that's pretty scary
when you think about it. Anyway, the point is that i think that
the Rothko music here really works well.
After the last portion of Halftones and Metatones fades
out, Landing take over. They start with a spaced out keyboard
piece called Introduction to Clouds. This piece is all
keyboard-driven whacky sci-fi goodness. In general though, their
section of New Found Land is light and dreamy,
with wavering keys and tingling guitars and intertwined voices.
The album just sort of lazily fades out as you lie watching
the clouds and slowly drift off to sleep.... Landing's section
is happy and lightweight. After the seriousness of the Rothko
piece, the frivilousness of Landing is really welcome.
On the whole, i love this CD. For me, it has been the soundtrack
to that unnamed transitional season between Winter and Spring.
If you enjoy ambient/drone music, then i urge you to seek this