Music for Savage Flowers
Every autumn I descend into a phase of listening to little other than ambient, ethereal music. Since mid-October, my workdays, bus rides, and final waking moments have been soundtracked by A Winged Victory for the Sullen, William Basinski, Tim Hecker, and Tycho. And, as usual during these periods, I've spent a fair amount of time looking around for musicians making similarly atmospheric, cinematic works that I'm not familiar with, soliciting the suggestions of friends, checking out labels known for these slower, introspective records, and working my way through Spotify's and Last.fm's related and recommended artists/albums lists. The latter method is how I stumbled upon Ross Gentry, who records under the moniker Villages, accidentally discovering the Miracle of Love compilation put out by Bathetic Records this year which features Villages' "Before Failures," a track off Gentry's Theories of Aging. A few weeks after making this initial discovery, Spotify highlighted Music for Savage Flowers on its "What's New" page. I've listened to the album at least twice a day ever since. Yesterday and today, I've listened to nothing else.
Not since my friend Jack introduced me to Tim Hecker's Dropped Pianos have I been this impressed by such a spectral, ghostly work, and in some ways Music for Savage Flowers exists in the liminal, twilight territory between Hecker's two most recent efforts, Ravedeath, 1972 and its sister album Dropped Pianos. The record revels in being unnerving and ominous, the strings and droning instrumentation occasionally sounding lifted from a cerebral horror film, adding darkness to the shadows, which in turn serves to bring out the light, to intensify the colors. Villages' most recent effort is truly cinematic, and engaging because of this fact. It moves deftly, confidently, slowly, creating a mood and atmosphere which allows for the creation of an entire world made up of our experiences and memories. For me, it is a collection of lonely winter landscapes, light fading along the horizon, a world of shadows and silhouettes in the finals moments before darkness. Music for Savage Flowers is a wonderfully evocative work, as it speaks to us and we are speaking back, responding to its musical twists and turns with movements through the imagery of our lives, our pasts, our imaginations.
I thought my Top 10 of 2012 was pretty settled until Ross Gentry released his most recent work. Now I suppose it's just a matter of where this phenomenal record settles on that list.