Thursday, December 13, 2012

orchestramaxfieldparrish - Crossing Of Shadows

orchestramaxfieldparrish - Crossing Of Shadows (fs12) 

orchestramaxfieldparrish's Crossing Of Shadows is a dark collection of lamentations originally recorded in 2006 and only released in a small private pressing in 2007 and has now undergone a remix and remastering. This new edition of six improvised electronic compositions is based on field recordings both left unprocessed and severely reprocessed, with added guitar, piano, voices and electronics, creating a musical path beginning from a place of extreme darkness and culminating in a point of light and hope. Recorded and mastered in 96K 24 bit audiophile audio. Included is a reconstructed version of 'Thirst' which first appeared on the Caligari - An Exquisite Corpse dvd release through the Chain Tape Collective.

There are two limited editions of this release, with the first being a hard cover book bound artist edition. This First Edition is 75 copies and consists of elegantly handcrafted covers made from the finest papers and photographic printing. The Second Edition is for 225 copies and is in a Japanese style mini lp sleeve. Total one time press of 300.

You can hear samples of this work and purchase a copy at

from textura:

Improvised and recorded “at the Luna County Observatory and outdoors within the shadows of Hell Gate,” orchestramaxfieldparrish's Crossing Of Shadows was recorded during the summer of 2006 and subsequently released in a private pressing in summer of 2007, and now appears in a fully remastered form for public consumption. It wouldn't be stretching things too much to say that the respective characters of the recording locales are manifested by the music, given that its six dark lamentations are both ethereal and earthy. It also wouldn't be reading too much into the album's elegiac tone in noting that the album is dedicated to Jeff Ladd, a dear friend of Fazio's who co-founded Faith Strange, played with him in Life With The Lions (among many group ventures), and passed away on May 21st, 2010. As such, one could quite legitimately hear Crossing Of Shadows as a memento mori, though one whose journey might begin in darkness and despair but is finally imbued with hope. As the saying goes, from tragedy great art is born, and the principle applies here too, as Fazio transmutes the great personal pain he endured into a moving fifty-two-minute statement that could be the most personalized work he's ever produced.

There's much to admire about the new release. On presentation grounds alone, it's striking, as Fazio prepared two limited editions of the release, the deluxe version a hardcover book-bound edition (75 copies) and the other a Japanese-style mini-LP sleeve (225 copies). Part of the recording's appeal is that it sounds almost nothing like Fazio's previous orchestramaxfieldparrish recording The Silent Breath of Emptiness, Fazio's thinking being that repeating a previous release's sound is pointless. It's a more sonically expansive recording than its predecessor, for one. Whereas the earlier recording focused on a purer distillation of guitar-generated textures and tones, the new album brings into its orbit field recordings (untreated and heavily treated) and piano while it at the same time downplays the guitar's presence, at least in so far as it appears in recognizable manner. It's an album that's also best served by a surround sound playback so that the multi-dimensional distribution of its elements can be experienced. Spatial positioning in this case transcends simple foreground-background determinations; instead, entire geographical expanses are suggested by the album's material.

The album begins with the magnificently realized rumination “Thirst (Revisitation),” so named because it originally appeared as part of the soundtrack to the Caligari: An Exquisite Corpse DVD project. After first rising out of the gloom like a softly moaning spectre, the piece builds gradually in intensity, its elements filling in and spreading into the space, until a lethal metallic drone detonates with a violent clang and thereby opens the gates to a flood of spectral noises. Ethereal creaking sounds whistle until they're supplanted by a low-level rumble and crackle, with the volume level and intensity continually shifting. “On Nine Mile Marsh” then unfolds like a patient scanning of a lunar surface alien territory, after which the brooding nocturnal ambiance of “Mystery by Moonlight” appears, enhanced by the inclusion of cricket thrum and an overall sense of dreamlike calm that nevertheless contains an undercurrent of turbulence and threat. Near the end of the piece, the musical elements fade away altogether, leaving in their wake the cricket drone accompanied by the sound of footsteps trudging through the undergrowth at three in the morning.

An intentional moment of silence separates parts one and two, the gesture signalling a subtle shift in tone towards a second half that plays like a requiem of sorts, even while flickers of light seep into its material as if to posit the possibility of rebirth and hope. “A Walk Amongst the Raindrops” unfurls peacefully with the flutter of spindly textures gently prodded by a whisper-soft shuffling rhythm, and then takes a meditative turn in its second half when a speaking voice recites text in a foreign tongue and acoustic piano playing appears. Only once does the album recall the sound-world of The Silent Breath of Emptiness, and that's in the closing piece “Lament (“The end is where we start from, a new beginning always begins with an end.” “…Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is…”),” which pairs celestial streams of guitar-generated material with piano chords—the ethereal and earthy united a final time.

There's a certifiably enigmatic quality to the album that enhances its appeal, and one of the mysteries, naturally enough, concerns the identity of the speaker in “A Walk Amongst the Raindrops” and an account of what he says (though one presumes that the speaker is Fazio, there's nothing to confirm unequivocally that it is so). This is a recording that is not only a superb addition to the orchestramaxfieldparrish discography but also a beautiful tribute that honours Ladd's memory in dignified manner. - January 2011

from Cyclic Defrost:

According to the orchestramaxfieldparrish myspace page, this shadowy outfit reside on Green Dolphin St, US of A. Somewhere in the psychic and musical neighbourhood of Dutch outfit Dolphins Into The Future, its a glowering neighbourhood of broken street lights and steaming ventilation ducts, neglected and mournful in contrast to Lieven Martens dayglo Cetacean odyssey. orchestramaxfieldparrish main man Mike Fazio initially released Crossing Of Shadows as a limited private pressing in 2007. A New York native, Guitarist Fazio has a long and varied history of improvisation and band-driven outings reaching back until the early 1980s.

Opening track ‘Thirst (Revisitation)’ was previously available as part of the soundtrack to the DVD Caligari: An Exquisite Corpse, released by the Chain Tape Collective, of which Fazio is a member. If Crossing Of Shadows had continued in this dark ambient / isolationist vein throughout, it would be a harrowing listen, but the atmosphere gradually allows more light in over the duration of proceedings. The orchestral WHOOMPH! around three minutes in might make you jump out of your skin, as befits a movie including Caligari in the title. ‘On Nine Mile Marsh’ dynamic panning and deep sonorous ambience tell a tale of a foggy place of foreboding and dread, straight out of some Victorian potboiler. Concluding Part one, ‘Mystery by Moonlight’ summons up the spectre of late 90s Coil, more creeping bent than creeping dread. It’s also reminiscent of Cluster and the Germanic Sky axis from the late 70s; a contemplative ambience draws the listener into the sultry night.

Part two swims further towards the light with ‘Lone Star’, as subtle repeated guitar motifs and low-key manipulation allow the ambience to shine through. Gradually, pointillist washes and space-age guitar echoes overtake the piece. This is a very interesting approach to guitar driven dark ambience, reminding me of Per Henrik Svalastog’s release for the Rune Grammofon label. The following track ‘A Walk Amongst the Raindrops’ has hypnotic Chain Reaction style pulsed rhythms and enough echoic delay to maintain that ‘minimal tech’ feel. The piano interludes and Japanese spoken word interludes feel somewhat clunky when contrasted to this beguiling rhythmic base. With the whole album serving as a lament to the memory of Life With the Lions band mate Jeff Ladd, orchstramaxfieldparrish has created a worthy shrine for the remembrance of a multi-faceted life. - Oliver Laing, February 2011


Some thoughts on Crossing Of Shadows and orchestramaxfieldparrish in general:

This will be the last orchestramaxfieldparrish work for the foreseeable future, if not, indeed, forever. I have said all I can say within its context. It's time to move on. Crossing Of Shadows is 4 years old now and I put it out on replicated cd finally as a memorial to my dear life long friend and co-conspirator in Faith Strange, Jeff Ladd, who passed on in May of this year. If anyone would like to learn about Jeff they are welcome to view the life with the lions page on the Faith Strange website. A fraction of his beautiful poetry can be found here.

For the record:

- Faith Strange is a totally self-funded private imprint run by artists for artists. It came into being in order to release works that WE deemed were viable enough to bring to a wider audience.

- A "lamentation" is a song of mourning. These are songs of mourning, for many personal reasons.

- ÆRA is the Old Danish word for "era" or "age" and is pronounced "era". It follows from my first experimental band Æ, with Thomas Hamlin, Micky Ortiz and Dan Luhmann which existed back in the 80's.

- orchestramaxfieldparrish is spelled with a small "o".

Enough said.

Time now, please!


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