As one series ends, another begins for the prolific Lost Tribe Sound, whose output we have been enjoying throughout the history of our website. The Salt and Gravity series kicks off this month with a new album from Arrowounds and will continue approximately monthly until all eight albums are out. We’ve already heard the first three, and the label sampler provides a window into all eight. We’re especially excited about the fact that the new series is all-instrumental. Alder & Ash’s “Stars With No Sky” is particularly evocative, as the sounding buoy heralds the start of a new year. Subscribe now for a great discount price (CDs are less than $10 again!) or save a small tree and purchase the digital bundle.
The title of the series is taken from Brian Catling’s novel The Vorrh. The full quote: “One solitary tear crept through the scars of his face, through the diagrams of constellations and the incised maps of influence and dominion. A liquid without a name, it being made of so many emotions and conflicts, each cancelling the other out until only salt and gravity filled the moment and moved down through his expression.” As the world enters the pandemic’s fourth wave, the theme seems prescient. The octet is also linked by an unintentional tonal connection to water, the artists separately producing works that reflect a drowning world struggling to stay afloat.
Thus Arrowounds‘ The Rise and Fall of the Melting World becomes the perfect lead-off, covering caverns, sunken ships and climate change. As the spiritual successor to The Loneliness of the Deep Sea Diver, the album remains murky, with occasional light filtering from the surface. While it is easy to read a title such as “Antarctica’s Spherical Anomalies Leave Residual Trails” and to think of the album in literal terms, the set also reflects the anxiety, isolation and fear of the last year, which affected Ryan Chamberlain and his family and led to a period of intense soul-searching. This set would be dark and reflective, yes ~ but where would it land?
One of Chamberlain’s interesting choices is to provide edited versions of the two leadoff tracks along with the original thirteen and sixteen minute versions. It’s a concession to modern attention spans, but in the digital era, an easy gift to grant. We still prefer the long versions, as one can get lost in them like a scuba diver with hypoxia; the affliction can also produce bursts of euphoria, blood vessel fantasies that pop and degrade.
Make no mistake, The Rise and Fall of the Melting World is a dark affair. But after consideration, Chamberlain brings his diver to the surface. It’s as if he’s saying, “I’ve suffered enough. You’ve suffered enough. Let’s imagine breaking the surface of the water, and grabbing an outstretched hand.” One day, we may ask ourselves, “How did we get through all that?” The answer may be tendrils of light and a decision to swim. Late in “Sulking Vessels Beneath the Great Murmuration,” there’s a melody to follow like flotsam, an aural life raft in a sonic ocean. The gurgling water of “Maps to Where the Poison Grows” is met by a heartbeat.
By the end, the listener may not feel uplifted, but salvaged and spared: over time, a far better feeling than temporary elation. (Richard Allen)