Atay Ilgun (Ashberry) calls this edition “the most precious collection of music ever released from Wounded Wolf Press,” and having seen the hard copy in person, we have to agree. In Music We Are Still Together is a generous offering that includes three discs, a handmade, hardbound case, a short book of poetry and a phial of subtle scents. There’s a lot of music here, and the personal dedication makes it feel more like a gift than a purchase. The first disc is a collection of three EPs, which makes it a trilogy within a trilogy; and as a bonus, the purchaser is able to choose between five color options.
The first disc, from which the project gains its title, compiles Resin, Rathree and Rowan, each a three-track EP (lots of threes here!) based on languid improvisations and field recordings. The creaking of trees is clearly heard in the opening selection, “And They Came In The Form Of Rain,” establishing an affinity with nature that continues throughout the project but is especially crucial to “The Windflower” on Disc Two. The birds are in full force by the second track, flittering around the piano, while wind chimes (or light bells) lighten the third. Rathree seems to enter deeper into a wooded area; the sounds are thicker, darker, increasingly plucked. Even the waves seem more active than before. But Rowan is a reconciling work, more abstract and even holy. At this juncture, the chimes begin to sound like calls to meditation, aided by the echo of distant drums; and on the closing piece, “The Wind That Cried The Twilight”, the spiritual aura is augmented by thoughtful strings.
Disc Two (Singing Hills) contains two 20-minute tracks, each one a gentle stunner. These are reinterpretations of Ashberry’s work by label mate Asphodel: the first centering on wildflowers and the second on scents. As advertised, they come across as entirely separate entities rather than a simple repositioning of sounds. Fans are already thinking of both subjects, as wildflowers are embedded in the packaging and the scents are present in the phial. By mixing more overt sounds to the front of the sound field (in particular the singing bowl samples) Asphodel is able to guide the ear to experience depth as well as breadth. This disc is particular provides a sweet score to the short poems, which concentrate – in consistent fashion – on flower, scent and spring.
Disc Three (unique to this edition) continues the collaborative theme, presenting a series of remixes, along with outtakes from the initial sections. While the multiple contributors cause the disc to flow a bit less evenly, The Way We Hear Silences offers numerous instances of dynamic contrast that set it apart from the other discs: not only louder mixing (on the opening and closing tracks), but tape loops and more overt stretches of melody, balanced by some of the set’s most impressionistic moments, in which wisps of sound seep through the speakers like mist. Ashberry’s own “Summer Snow”, a longer work for miked piano, is the highlight, but Koray Kantarcioglu’s “Loop Studies” would make a lovely short EP in their own right.
The Art Edition is a feast for the senses: sight, sound, scent and touch. Only one thing is lacking: you can’t eat it. But it does go well with a bright spot of tea on a glimmering spring morning, and provides the perfect calm to start the day. (Richard Allen)