Monday, November 8, 2010

Rambutan - Narrow Sky [Ghetto Naturalist Series]

Rambutan a.k.a. Eric Hardiman, proprietor of the smokin' Tape Drift label and member of upstate NY psych crews Burnt Hills and Century Plants, is a very busy man. The guy drops tapes like its nobody's business on labels across this wonderful nation and beyond, and defying all logic, the numerous releases he continually fires out are all really good. This one, released on Ghetto Naturalist Series (run in part by Nathaniel Brennan/Cruudeuces) is absolutely some of the finest work Hardiman has done.
Narrow Sky kicks off with "Half Circle," an unusually aquatic zone for Mr. Hardiman. This isn't deep sea diving mind you, more like swamp trudging. Mellow, melodic tones burble over clanging bells and a brief slice of clarinet. Maybe the swamp trudging was a bad call, the piece is probably a bit more akin to floating down a river in the middle of a jungle. Sounds exist in all directions seemingly random and insulated yet organized in a grand musical fabric. Straight up beautiful piece. "Trailing Moss" finishes out the side and changes up the tone straight away. Distorted tones pulse wildly, I think with a clarinet underneath at the heart of it maybe. I suppose it could be guitar, but it sounds more guttural and reedy. Hardiman moves through the dusklight at a decent clip despite no clear percussive pulse. The piece looms along like a dark grey cloud jetting across the sky. Towards the end, it seems like there may be a bass drum pumping along underneath. I don't know man. It's big, it's dark, it sounds great. What more do you need to know? I also dig how Hardiman is still busting out melodies through the thunderstorm. Needless to say, great side. Now onto the next.
"The Rising Path" takes the whole of the B and it's pretty damn great as well. Opening with a fantastic, deep fuzzy lick and what sounds like a little vinyl crackle. I don't know what instrument Hardiman is employing here as it sounds too deep to be clarinet, too smooth to be a guitar, too organic to be a keyboard. I don't really know. After a patch of silence and I think a bit of snare drum, the piece moves on with the arrangement thickened up significantly. It gets even darker than "Trailing Moss" and it does so pretty quickly. On the other hand though, Hardiman also throws in a few curveballs too, such a distorted tribal-ish drum pattern that appears briefly. Hardiman does a great job arranging the piece here as he manages to retain its spaciousness while filling the piece with a menagerie of sounds and odd melodies. He's really in the zone on this one. "Path" continues to gain momentum, the crashing waves of sound get bigger and louder until they roar across the stereo spectrum. Hardiman never loses a melodic base either, by the side's final minutes there's a melody coming though loud and clear even though it's buried under two tons of fuzz. Phenomenal work here.
I'm a little miffed at Ghetto Naturalist Series for only running 35 copies of this, as it deserves far more. The best Rambutan work that has met my ears. Definitely recommended if you can find it.

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