Appleton Cabin is a lovely sonic memoir of a year spent on a goat farm in Maine. It’s a reminder that outside of the city’s hustle and bustle ~ and often only miles away from the noise ~ lies a peaceful, rooted experience.
Dalriver (Glenn Dalrymple) spent this year at the Appleton Creamery, and even a brief look at the website provides an image of an earlier, purer era: a tablecloth banner, a booth at a county fair, images of award-winning goat cheese. For those stuck in cubicles, behind store counters, or on a hectic trading floor, this is a life worth dreaming about. Places like these still exist; more importantly, professions like this still exist. The artist dedicated a year of his life to this alternative pursuit; his music invites us to do the same.
While listening to Appleton Cabin, one feels cares and concerns slipping away. The placid nature of the music is a panacea to the over-scheduled, over-stressed life. Dalriver is relaxed enough to whistle, to sing wordlessly, to strum his acoustic guitar, to produce songs that are in no hurry to get anywhere but arrive happily when they do. Dalriver took a year to compose and produce this album, and it shows. Life on a farm teaches patience, and helps one to appreciate cycles: seasons will come and go, good times and bad, injuries and recoveries. Ever shall it be.
Dalriver’s field recordings allow the listener to feel a specific connection to place. The first goat makes an appearance only seconds into the album, the last near the very end. The closeness one can feel to an animal companion is emphasized on the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-referencing “Barbaresco Is Dead”. Barbaresco bleats, the bell rings, the artist whistles a wistful eulogy. As very few goat-centered compositions exist, one wonders if a track might make it onto the soundtrack of MGM’s The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, based on the 2006 illustrated novel by George Saunders and Lane Smith.
“From the Farm to Appleton Ridge Pond” is especially evocative. Soft footsteps land on grass, while trickles of water weave through the recording like rivulets through hay. The stereo effects of this selection are perfectly positioned, a reminder of the time the artist took to get it right. An unrushed life leads to unrushed art, the Maine equivalent of a Zen garden. In the final track, Dalriver adds a light touch of post-rock, like the vegetable ash of Appleton’s Granite Kiss. The resulting warmth is more akin to a glow than a fire, an indication that the year on the farm was not only relaxing, but restorative.
Afterwards, the artist will head back to the city – the same, yet not the same. Stronger, calmer, glowing from within. Dalriver will carry the farm wherever he goes, and feel lighter as a result. (Richard Allen)