Zachary Corsa, one half of Lost Trail, has gone solo in his latest outing. While the haunted ambient duo are at present drifting into shoegaze / noise territory, Corsa has just released A Spirit under his new, guitar oriented project Pines. He heads straight for the woods, backpack choked with equipment – a guitar, a banjo, a piano (what can I say? It’s a pretty heavy backpack), some field recordings and some pedals.
“Cabin Hymns” sets the tone with looped snippets of clean yet crumbling guitars, casually washed out. The atmosphere is gentle, inquisitive, possibly even frail in its skeletal delay and clean, creased decay. Notes creak like boards on a white porch at sunset. Roads bleed in the dark, seeping warmth into the brighter melodies. Beauty is fleeting, and the melodies subsequently erode. Sometimes, the melody reverses and scratches at the music, violent claws deep within the drone and its comforting womb.
The gentle loops reverse in what is an unexpectedly tight turn. They are sharp branches that cut you without warning. The guitar is softly laminated with a lush delay, creating some much needed space, some reflection. The tone is close to that of Lost Trail, but they’re two different routes that converge on the outskirts of the same forest. Similarly, A Spirit has plenty of inner warmth, replacing Lost Trail’s slightly eerie vibe with that of cabin comfort. The cabin lies up ahead, along with the reassuring embers of a log fire. The hazy glint in the light helps to keep the nightmares outside. No invitation can let them come near. The drones that used to usher in the ghosts are largely absent, leaving only a shiny smudge behind.
“Snoqualmie Pass” disorientates lightly, but the horrors are just imaginary. For the most part, A Spirit keeps the phantoms at bay. And as a result, the music is lighter, casual almost. The layers of reverb and delay lead to chill out moments where the guitars swoon in an endless, scribbled circle. A sweet light surrounds the music, a golden late-evening ember in the sky.
This should be your summer retreat, the slightly strange vacation where the neighbors aren’t as friendly as they appear and the summer house leans crookedly to one side. It’s alright, though, because among the low hanging branches and amid the pine scented perfume, the view is pretty much perfect.
Our Season is a split between the aforementioned Lost Trail and Arizona’s Plains Druid. “Vitalum Vitalis” is a kind drone, a beautiful opener that could last forever. There are no hexes, no ghosts; only a fine, ethereal glow that does its best to seduce the listener. Nothing describes their music better than the words ‘disembodied Americana’. Their paper-thin wings let in the light of late afternoon, filtering into the soul and settling there.
Lost Trail have a unique, transient sound that lingers like ectoplasmic residue. On “Your Eyes Will Empty Of Daylight”, the drone succumbs to a void of static, a perilous yet stunning avalanche that consumes the listener in white, harmonious noise. In this place, indistinct conversations that were once dead to the past are brought back to life.
On the other side, Plains Druid wraps the listener up in a swirling, thirty minute romance. Angelic vocals kiss against the steady percussive rhythm, and the burning drone sizzles underneath. It’s white-hot music, but the vocals cool the outside temperature. When they leave, nothing stops the ascent; it soars higher and higher. Plains Druid (Jon McIntosh) paints his music with highly sensitive colors, colors that spark and ignite in the sky, a lens flare coming courtesy of the sun, putting the listener in a trance with its hypnotic light. There is no better way to end the split. The vocal comes back in, cooling the music once again, leaving behind a dusty trail as it silently crash lands. It’s the end of a beautiful, transcendent trip. We don’t want to come back. The music, and the experience she so freely gave, was a strange yet lovely episode. Really, the music could’ve been an out of body experience, an astral projection.
Did we really touch the astral plane?
Maybe. Maybe. (James Catchpole)