Land of Marigold – s/t (Bug Incision Records; 2013)
Known ways now that you are likely to come across microtonal music first is through the wall of sounds made with no wave electric guitar music and the synth modes of various pretty and “pop” sound art. I mostly remember the provocative side of no wave and derivatives in rock, the other in the lines of musique d’ameublement is idealistic for conceptual reasons I mostly don’t care about. I don’t want to spend time listening to music that both denies human nature and the laws of nature or produce documents that are “representative” and “realistic” about the world we know.
Because another thing that attracted me later on a series of sound sources to compose my own music, which is really far from my direct musical background and the philosophy I used to have, is the obscure side of the human being and life in general, what we can’t hear directly. Now, years of music composition have pushed my mind on territories that I find difficult to encounter when I am not doing it myself.
Acoustics are now primordial to me, the raw sound presence of instruments more important than the decorative microtonal layer I could put out with synths, fun as well, but often only when attempting to have more obscure shifts (it can be really simple too) than what is currently being done. And I can only be idealistic for musical reasons. Focus on conceptual thinking in relation to music is not working all that great to express what I feel in me because it tends to exclude the most expressive part. I discovered more than once through composition that the concepts come across better for me if the music is the priority.
Even when taking an impressionistic approach to microtonal acoustics, Land of Marigold doesn’t have that steady tendency that is expected, even in compositions that is too often the case for microtonals, the absence of drive, the focus on silence and quietness. The unsteady Land of Marigold can work as a background, but it is likely to invite your mental routine to become inventive instead of finding that everything in music is great like it is and that nothing new can be added. Land of Marigold, although organic and healthy, it doesn’t sound like a spiritual ideal of passive contemplation, neither does it takes oriental progressions and philosophies as a constant mode of operation (only during a few moments). By the absence of comforting anchors, you wonder if you would love to live in this world sometimes. Yet, and specially for this very reason, it is always beautiful, specially if you concentrate your attention on this absence.
Ellwood Epps (trumpet) and Joshua Zubot (violin, low octave violin) created here music of a kind beyond a mode of operation, whatever music is being played in the moment or is fully organized. The chemistry between the musicians, years of playing together in various sets, perhaps mostly providing the organization, which I find to be top notch and highly balanced on my 8th listen or so through months in 2013. The feeling is an active soundscape that refuse to settle like an abandoned civilization that could never be buried or ruined. It is like zooming on what we can’t perceive with our senses, the life going on in our bodies, where we think nothing is happening. There is more unknown there than on the land of various planets, dead and so much harder to get to.
In comparison, a steady and repetitive use of microtonals is often the illusion of realism and a poor representation of our limited perceptions, both bring nothing to our experience of life anyway, only the comforting notion that it is about something “real”, when it is not even the case. It is accessible if you never want to go further, but it encourages mistakes and prejudices about life.
The wild open sound here doesn’t need your approval, it is produced for a need far more vital than social back-up to confirm a vision already in place. Listen ! It will continue to play in your mind…