Ulaan Passerine – Ulaan Passerine

UlaanPasserine_largeSpacious. If I needed to fasten only a single word to this album, only spacious would be near to satisfactory. Ulaan Passerine is the most recent in a very long line of experimental folk, drone, and psychadelic releases from Steven R. Smith. I’ll leave it to others who are more deeply familiarized with the man’s discography to make direct comparisons between this and his earlier projects, but from what I have heard I think I can safely claim that this latest release is up to the same high standard of compelling and original music as those that came before it. It’s a dreamy and unhurried exploration of gentle drones and deliberate acoustic rambles, eschewing the more lively and noisey nature of the other two Ulaans.

The whole experience breathes a masterful sense of sparse composition as every moment of this roaming album feels in it’s perfect place, with vast reaches of that aforementioned space spreading between them. It easily avoids the trap of much droning music where a slow pace becomes equated with a lack of movement; here I can feel the passing of my body and the shadows of clouds drifting over the steppe like landscape. This psychosonic migration is slow and meditative, and while it does so with a tranquil subtlety, the topography is ever changing. At one moment you may find yourself basking in the sun drenched pickings of acoustic guitar interweaving with the pastoral melodies of the mellotron while subtly treated electronics gurgle like a stream in shallow but quick descent over moss coated rocks, and yet later you will walk on in reflective thoughts as bowed strings play solemn yet tender musings over a quiet and meditative electronic drone. I’m guessing that Ulaan Passerine is around an hour long, so I was curious on my initial listening whether or not it could stay interesting for the duration, but Mr. Smith handles this concern admirably; a thriving variety of instrumentation and mood, as well as the manner in which he manages to connect them together by gradually swelling and emphasizing one element of the sound while diminishing another ensures this tape remains compelling throughout.

The physical presence is, in more than one way, actually a good representation of what Ulaan Passerine is. It’s rather minimalistic , but also striking and original. The photograph of the strange yurt-like structure in the foreground of an expansive land and sky scape is mysterious and inviting, without revealing much. It’s presence on clean white fabric gives it a strange domestic charm, and the lack of song titles gives it that same home-made, though far from amateurish, feeling. Ulaan Passerine walks a fascinating balance where minimal music is crafted into something absolutely vital, reminding us on the journey to stop and take note of those things that are imperceptible to the rushing mind. -Jake
Brave Mysteries

~ by jakemoran on June 12, 2013.

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