Monday, July 16, 2007

Quetzolcoatl – Vast Eternity Bridges [Abandon Ship]

Tim Hurley has really been blowin’ up in the year 2007 it seems. If I was on VH1 I’d probably say he's having the Best Year Ever (or Week or Month or whatever that show is). He’s had a slew of excellent releases on rad labels such as Foxglove, American Grizzly and his own recently formed Leaf Trail label (another reason why he is having the best year ever). And oh yeah, this spectacular cassette on the newbie but totally capable and totally awesome Abandon Ship records called Vast Eternity Bridges. It’s kinda late in the game to start writing about this because a bunch of other much more respectable folks have already been singing its praises, but I figure one more review won’t hurt.
The first of 5 tracks (2 on side A, 3 on the flip) is a real gorgeous slow mover. A swelling keyboard anchors the piece with faraway vocal moans drifting in and out and noisy but not abrasive contact mic-ery and, like any good Quetzolcoatl record, the whole thing is absolutely doused in reverb. It’s ghostly and beautiful and totally dreamy, especially when everything drops out to reveal a single voice, a cooing mellow siren. It should also be mentioned that this thing sounds awesome on cassette. The tape hiss is like a constant, torrential downpour—a perfect backdrop for Tim to work his magic. Unfortunately, this is the only Quetzolcoatl cassette so far, in the mostly cd-r discography. (Tim if you ever happen upon this humble review, please please please make some more tapes. Thanks) (Update: Well, Tim did happen upon this humble review and corrected me, he has done two previous cassette splits, one with Changeling and the other with Moonmilk. I guess his tape had my head so far in the clouds I forgot to check my facts.) If there is a single thing that Quetzolcoatl reminds me of, its water, rivers and rain especially. You know like floating down the river in a rainforest or something like that. It’s a very peaceful journey but certainly not silent or quiet. There is water lapping against the shore, raindrops splashing on the surface and birds and monkeys (they're in rainforests right?) occasionally chiming in but there is an overwhelming sense of wetness and weightlessness. Sorry for that ramble, but the sounds are just absolutely sublime and I had to least try to describe them (even if I was destined to fail).
Finishing out side A, the next piece gets a tad more tribal with the addition of some surprisingly violent hand drumming. The percussive aggression, though, somehow melds fantastically with ‘verbed vocal and synth (?) murk; not obstructing the tracks natural, placid pace yet adding a whole ‘nother dimension to the surroundings. It’s just a real beautiful side altogether, with both tracks being soul mates fated to meld together and provide me with 25 minutes of pure bliss.
Even more excellent, is that there is another 26 minutes on the other side! While side A set the bar mighty high, side B stacks up admirably. Unlike the first side, B sees two shorter tracks (5-6 minutes) sandwiching a 15 minute monster (maybe my favorite piece on the tape). The first is something rather atypical for Quetzolcoatl. Stuttering low frequencies rolling along with a looped flute-like falsetto or maybe feedback of some sort meandering in the background—it’s a decent enough track but it’s just the opening act for the real star here, the fourth track.
Composed mainly of layers and layers of vocals bobbing up and down, with a little echo-ey percussive tinkling pushed way back in the mix; the piece is an ever changing and free flowing tapestry of frequencies. Slowly moving from murk to shimmer and everywhere in between, it’s a very strange piece because despite it’s rather slow pacing it is over in what feels like a snap of the fingers. It’s one of those bits of music that words cannot do justice to, only your ears can fully experience it’s transcendence. The tape wraps up with its shortest piece. An eerily hypnotic or perhaps hypnotically eerie entanglement of voice and guitar (I think, or maybe a stringed device of another sort) (Update: Actually the correct answer is voice and piano, had me fooled). There is also a slight shift with about a minute to go resulting in one of the tape’s prettiest moments. A fitting end to an incredible cassette.
Vast Eternity Bridges also looks real pretty too. A nice cover photo and fold out art by Tim himself and a cool blue tape with a nifty label and the whole nine. Watch for Abandon Ship if you haven’t already. In addition to Q, it’s put out excellent tapes by (VxPxC) and Spectre Folk as well. Not to mention a fannypack's worth of new releases (I still gotta get my tentacles on that Non-Horse Xol Mic tape). With new stuff coming from Capricorn Wings, 6majik9, Thousands and more, AS is a definite up & comer. Scratch that, it’s already arrived so be sure check what they got on tap, I'll be tuned in for sure. Tim’s Leaf Trail label has three super-rad releases in store as well, from Ixchel (his new duo project), Ghost Brames of the Cerf (featuring Florian Tositti of The Reggaee and Xochipilli) and a Bonecloud double album!! So, watch for those as well. Gee, I sure spit out a lot of info there, hopefully it wasn't too boring and something you don’t mind hearing.
Vast Eternity Bridges has been sold out at source for a few months but there are still a few copies chillin’ in various distros, so hurry up and grab them ASAP! Essential ’07 listening I tells ya. Try here or here

1 comment:

Outer Space Gamelan said...

Thanks for the link. Good luck with your blog, looks good to me so far (Fricara Pacchu, right on!). I'll add a link to yours on mine once I muster up the energy to actually go in and edit the links...