When an album is released on New Year’s Day, is it too early to speculate that it might make a year-end list? Perhaps ~ but we know what we enjoy, and Call, Response is yet another winner from Own Records. Arriving only three weeks after the amazing comeback album from woodworkings, this record continues to elaborate that album’s wintry theme and is a perfect album to play on cold, crisp January nights.
The song that makes this album so timely is “Winter to Spring, Further Than First Thought”. At this point in the year, the sentiment is apt. Beginning with the hum and hiss of tape, the piece continues to develop via the addition of field recordings – steps, perhaps a carriage – and a series of lonely, segmented sounds. Languid guitar tones echo and morph as crackling electronics ping and whirr, hoping to reach the surface. Listening is like watching frost spread on glass.
The tape sounds may seem to have been integrated in post-production, but were initially a byproduct of the creative process. In producing this work, David Andree and Josh Mason recorded material to magnetic tape for the other to accompany. The exchange resulted in a conversation – call, response – that became richer as the artists grew to know one another. The artists also created a lovely video in which their respective locations (in Minnesota and Florida, the American North and South) became the subject of their cameras. The video, shot to accompany “A Beacon, Peace, and a Steambath”, includes not only nature scenes, but scenes of the recording process. Each artist’s work unfolds alongside the other while simultaneously forming a whole. “Is it raining where you are?” one imagines them asking. Now it’s raining everywhere.
Some of the muted sounds are also the most appealing. One wonders what is going on in the center of “Ripple, Slight Breeze”, as it seems that a child has come in from the cold and turned on a TV. Or the crunches of “(in)”, which seem to reflect fall in a deep forest. The personal nature of the album makes us care about its inhabitants. Here’s the tape in the mailbox again ~ what does it disclose?
On first listen, it’s disorienting to realize that one is hearing the sound of tape recorded to vinyl and translated to the digital realm, but one can reverse the process as well, regardless of the format in which one makes the purchase. Instead of calling for a cassette reissue, our readers are encouraged to make their own personal tapes, bringing the work coming full circle. The artists would be proud. (Richard Allen)