The imagery conjured by the artist name The Green Kingdom is lush, colorful, teeming with life. And so it is a slight surprise to view the cover of the latest album: a vast landscape that is anything but green. But Mike Cottone has not changed his sound; he’s expanded his focus. The new work is meant to imply largesse in all of its forms, whether desert, sea or snowy field.
The sound is still full, despite the fact that the press release describes it as minimal. When played at home, synthetic tones wash through the house while electronic notes echo from wall to wall. Inside the equipment, the sounds travel from speaker to speaker like aural nomads. We can credit the mastering of Tobias Hellkvist for such an immersive experience.
All ten tracks are untitled, which has led to some amusement online ~ those commenting on the album all share the same favorite track (“Untitled”). But it’s hard to choose a favorite, because Expanses is an album that fulfills its suggestion, filling sonic space in the same way as liquid covers a counter. Nature abhors a vacuum, and these sounds seep and spread until they have lined every surface.
Cottone has suggested that the album is an homage to classic ambient and techno works. The tracks are built upon architectures of repetition, linking them to such forms. More importantly, the album imitates their sense of temporal flow. Despite the silences between them, the tracks are connected by mood: no jutting angles, no rough edges to impede the out-of-body experience. Tempos are present, albeit without drums. The listener feels neither a rush to move forward nor an impetus to pause. By surrendering to the expanse, one becomes a part of it; no longer fighting, but traveling on a river of ions to the sonic sea. (Richard Allen)