This is desert country. Coyotes came from Felicia Atkinson‘s trip to New Mexico and features two side-long pieces of serene, expansive music evocative of those desert plains. The mysterious sounds court Roswell in terms of state and scientific study, but in reality Coyotes is nowhere near 1947: her experimental music is from the future.
Still, Coyotes is somewhat of an anomaly on the radar, a speeding, thirty-minute blip on the screen. She’s managed to distil New Mexico’s widescreen, dusty landscape – a place as inhabited as it is vacant – and drop it into her music. From Taos to Ghost Ranch, Atkinson’s music is vast but not empty, populated by an array of pretty melodies and scattered, slightly abrasive tones which litter the music’s bedrock like a clump of vegetation or a cluster of sand-coated rocks. Her music is a mirror.
Since the forties, we’ve advanced in many ways, especially on the technological front, but on an intellectual level…I’ll get back to you on that one. The incline is less so. A species still struggling with basic, fundamental traits of respect and love, and still flirting with and engaging in war, isn’t an entirely healthy one. The problem’s within. Perhaps we’re the coyotes, the scavengers, the opportunists, the hunters, and calling someone out as an animal is insulting not to the person it’s aimed at, but to the animal itself. The record isn’t a pessimistic one, though. Quite the opposite: its unrestricted explorations bubble with suppressed joy.
The whistling wind traps bright, sun-robed melodies, and “Lighter Than Aluminium” is as lustrous as the chrome-colored chemical element. This isn’t something of unknown origin, and although Atkinson’s music is unique, we don’t need to call up Fox and class Coyotes as an X-File. Atkinson’s music is nothing like wreckage, but it does spill out in seemingly random directions.
As it drives through a sun-bleached town, the music glints as it catches a hot light. At first, her hushed, musing voice sits behind the scenes, in the submissive passenger seat, only coming out to play on “Abiquiu”. As active as it is sparse, the music perhaps gives the illusion of activity, like a vivid, heat-blurred mirage, and it’s always changing, always evolving, just like its parental landscape. The hazy dreams write unreal hieroglyphics upon the music, brandishing strange melodies into a sharp and dazzling piece of metal. The melodies and sequences are as precise as a laser, populating the music with quiet taps and prods. Truth is stranger than fiction. (James Catchpole)