José Soberanes ~ The Rising Tide

coverThere’s something special about this release, which is apparent even on the very first play.  The Rising Tide is not only an extremely intimate album, but one that gives equal billing to field recording and music.  The result is akin to reading the artist’s sonic diary.

We’re guessing that a breakup led to this album, as the titles include “I Miss Her Texture” and “Just Stay”, and the description references “feelings of loss, anxiety and hope”.  Every day before his recording sessions, José Soberanes walked around his neighborhood, collecting sounds.  One imagines his visiting his favorite places and recalling a time when two people were walking instead of one.  If this is true, then it’s a beautiful way to remember a relationship, one perhaps only a recording artist would attempt.  The sounds of birds, pottery and flowing water inhabit the recording like friendly ghosts.  It’s not until a rainstorm ends with a click that the listener realizes that these are not concurrent but captured recordings that Soberanes controls with a button.  Every replay sparks a memory.  Instead of letting regret kill him, he allows gratitude to fill him.  He excavates the ruins until he finds treasure.

“Our Sacred Space” (found here in two parts) conjures images of a couple’s favorite spot, one where they might sit and allow nature’s peace to envelop their thoughts.  Local creatures buzz; a bicycle bell rings; something – a camera, a fishing pole – is wound.  In part 1, Soberanos allows field recordings to dominate the sound field, adding little modification.  In other tracks, he offers light guitar, synthesizer and crackle.  He may miss her textures, but he has plenty of his own.  To quote Gladys Knight and the Pips, “I’ve got to use my imagination to think of good reasons to keep on keeping on; got to make the best of a bad situation.”  Turning despair into art is one of the healthiest ways to do so.

The Rising Tide is more than a single man’s reaction; it’s an example of hopeful mourning.  Even when a shovel is plunged into dirt (in “100 Questions”), birds sing while melodies swirl.  The juxtapositions then generate their own questions:  did the loved one die?  Is the crossing of the stream metaphoric?  Are the distant church bells meant to signify an ending or a transformation?  Yet ultimately, these matter not.  The album is meant to answer an entirely different question: can one survive loss with grace?  The answer here is a resounding yes.  (Richard Allen)

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