After listening to Cotyledon Observatory for a couple weeks, I’ve been thinking of clear night skies, crisp stars, an observatory on a hill, possibly somewhere in Britain. So imagine my surprise when I learned that there is no Cotyledon Observatory; a cotyledon is a seed leaf that “remains in the seed or emerges, enlarges, and becomes green”. But you knew that already, didn’t you? Sure you did.
In this case, the cotyledon is the guitar of Andrew Fitzpatrick, or more specifically, each guitar note. What begins as a series of solo improvisations takes on new form when fed through effects pedals and digital shields. Some notes remain as played; others “emerge, enlarge, and become green”. Enlarge is the most obvious verb; these notes expand to fill entire fields. Sheet after sheet emerges, rises, and moves aside to make room for the next, undulating like fields of wheat. While the layers are occasionally stacked atop each other (especially in the second half of “Wyoming”), the bundle never breaks; there’s always enough air left inbetween. The only interruptions arrive at the beginning and end of tracks. Many flare out unexpectedly, and “Osteoma” (“a benign tumor growing on the skull” – Scrabble players, rejoice) rockets in with a burst of synthetic noise. “Osteoma” is the loudest track, flirting with abrasion, but a gentler introduction would have kept its intentions secret for a while longer.
Transitions aside, Cotyledon Observatory is a fine album, well titled and well presented, and even if listening feels a lot like stargazing, watching clusters of galaxies being born is just the macro version of watching a cotyledon slowly shift to the green. (Richard Allen)
Release date: Late April