Sunday, September 2, 2012
My Autumn Empire II. When I was a child there lived down the street from me two sisters. They were awkward, exceedingly intelligent and in ancient days subject to a litany of abuse, that is, until the one summer when the eldest came into bloom followed soon after by younger sister. Derision turned to lust but the tragedy of a young boy's folly had been laid, the story already cast. How is this relevant to My Autumn Empire? Well "A" and "I" are like Epic45. For years we were unimpressed, we nodded off, frankly we were indifferent. And then came Weathering. Have you not yet realized what a monument to glory and beauty that record is? You have probably not. We all laugh and are empathically generating the most desperate sadness for you. The first My Autumn Empire record was greatly anticipated on this strange little website. It was nice, it was a July Skies record made in the dark. Where Antony harding painted with color and warmth, My Autumn Empire was more deflecting choosing to surround his music less with the pastoral whimsy of England gone past and more of the ideal of the idyll. But then there is Weathering and then there is this. First track, a bit of Gorky's dreaminess, second track, a bit more substantial a Soft Machine-esque romp through the hit parade of dreams and the digitization of nature. But the bits and bytes and 0's and 1's have had their edges sanded off, their humanity restored, less instagram more kodachrome. There is a luminous sheen to the recording now. Did he pack away all of the lovely bits from the Weathering recording session, all of the good vibes, all of the love and harmony and joy and compress it into the grooves of these songs. I believe that he has. I began writing this entry before I took a journey north. Into Alaska. The final frontier for Americans with an expired passport. We were disappointed because we did not see a moose. Or Moose. We did see bears at great distances, elf'n'safety you know and Kenneth our bus driver was a stickler. Near to us on a bus a Korean family eliciting sympathy from all around because the patriarch, not handling the discomfiture of 195 culverts being installed along the park road, emptied the the contents of his stomach into Kenneth's clear plastic trash sack. kenneth was a rock, our rock. We made it to Eileson in a a few hours and we were members of the 30% club who get to see Denali and it is an impressive site. Kenneth played it up, he promised us wildlife and he failed to deliver. Caribou dancing on patches of summer snow off in the distance, arctic squirrels and bear cubs disinterested and non-photogenically camouflaged do not not add up to irrepressible memories. We pressed buttons on interactive displays and wrapped our hands in bear pelts. Later that week we saw Muck Oxen, caged, sexually frustrated, but without Kenneth. Third track. This has a 70's feel as if mixed through a Neil Halstead trademarked sepia filter. Repetition, space age effects and gentle whispers. It is all a bit Pink Floyd really. If Pink Floyd were as twee as Syd Barret imagined they would be. if Roger Waters wasn't such an accountant. If Roger Gilmour had a spine. It's nothing at all to do with mathematics, it's respiring, it is music with lungs and an atmosphere. The notes and coos flourishing in the richly bio-diverse ecosystem. There are only 8 tracks. It has not been long since the last My Autumn Empire album. It's dreadfully sensitive. I am somewhere in the middle on the sensitive scale. I operate chain saws and heavy equipment and I am tasked, at work, with terminating most of our employees and I am able to justify my grim existence as such but I am sensitive. I am able to eat breakfast at Watercourse in Denver and while I am certain I am pegged as a Will Durant loving liberal, in the traditional sense, I feel not uncomfortable but gently observant. We rode the train in Alaska. There was an alleged moose sighting while we were on board but I don't count a view of the rump as a genuine experience. But train travel is inspiring. Alaska, being the end of the world, is inspiringly isolated. The imagination needn't seek crevices and corners to hide to create a world more richly nuanced than that which is thrust upon our senses by entrepreneurs and service workers. It is nature unedited, and when digitized through the human glance and recorded on the cerebral cortex it is there to be painted exuberantly with the brush strokes of loneliness turned away by a marvelous travel companion whose face competed with the glory of divinity infused wilderness. The trees seemed lonely. Black Spruce and Birch. Sad, longing for friendship from their friends the Linden or Locust or Filbert. Until we reached near to Anchorage it was a desperately barren florascape. Even the bears were singularly unimpressive. A Grizzly Bear at 300 pounds sounds like a pet. Fourth track Sleeves, a jam, cosmic baby. Epic45 don't really jam. Do they? Perhaps these are the Weathering rejects where the other Epic45 person that isn't My Autumn Empire turns up his nose at the dirty hippie nonsense. The tie dye silliness. The 6 minute long nothingness. But it's a repeating dream, not unlovely at all. Next track. Nick Drake's photo has been put back into its place above the mantlepiece, acoustic finger exercises, different from July Skies. Epic45 can play guitar it appears. July Skies can't, not quite. No vocals. Two guitars intertwined, shy, one more than the other, a repeating motif and tenderness underneath. Nice. Now to Say it Again(I'll Kill You), very Nick Nicely through the Halstead filter. The lyrics are meant to be ironically shocking or whatever, soaring wordless bits, now a compressed trumpet smeared across the mix with twinkles and a heavenly halo interceding. Wonderful. This is a Gary Wright record, a Dan Fogelberg record, and we don't mind. Sensitive 70s men had facial hair the same as sensitive men from the 2010's. Fleet Foxes, the wait staff at Watercourse, Alexi Murdoch. Next track, vocals recorded down a phone line. This is a huge improvement over the first My Autumn Empire album. Truly stunning. It sounds a band. Is it a band? He's laying down a slinky electric riff next to his twee twaddle. A dream. Distortion, an acoustic guitar, primitive drum falls. It sounds as if his world is suffering the implosion of live without love, of living without hope, it would have rendered me speechless and thoughtful only a few months ago and now it sounds the sound of romantic happiness. Last track, Sleep, a lullaby. In the vein of Spectrum's Go To Sleep. The words a puzzle, a matryoshka doll. Now an effervescent organ. This is organic and heaven bound all at once. The songs dig their tap root deep beneath the verdant landscape and the tendrils of rhizomes and shoots and stolons interact and build upon each other until they coalesce into a portal into the world of laser light shows and hallucinogenic drugs and unfortunate facial hair even among the nonsensitive, the republicans and country line dancers. If I were to shave my head and listen to this album hair would grow unbidden in places unwarranted, on adams apples and inside my duodenum and my children would be conceived al hijra and be born with an inherent love of My Autumn Empire embedded in their genetic code.