In his liner notes, Cole Peters addresses the pandemic feeling of “time and space collapsing,” and brings this personal feeling to bear on his music. To many, these past two years have been one long blur: an unending winter or Lent, time unhinged from calendars and clocks. The tendency for people to fall back on nostalgia has exacerbated this condition.
Peters’ processed field recordings are meant not only as a reflection of his physical environment, but of his interactions with it ~ or more properly, the way that geography bleeds into personality. On the surface, one might dissect “Immersion as a Means of Erosion” into component clusters such as a) ocean, wind and gulls; b) squeaks, clanks and machinery; and c) a few human words. Peters places them all in a morass, a drone-like space, a white noise that fills the crannies of ears and mind. He feels “subsumed by his surroundings;” as an artist, he sinks into his music, gradually disappearing as the set progresses.
Time and space do not collapse only within the boundaries of 2020 and 2022. Peters offers homage to his native Manitoba as “the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and the home of the Métis Nation.” When time markers are blurred, one day seeping into the next and years collapsing into each other, history becomes porous. The influenza epidemic of 1918 and COVID-19 meet when opposite ends of the paper are folded. The voices of native people rise through the earth as we walk upon the ground. What we do today will echo into the unseen years “if man is still alive, if woman can survive.” In this spirit, the forlorn “Plains Music” is both a requiem for the former wide open spaces and a reminder of the desolation that might await. Only the crickets and birds remain unflappable as the drone, like a dust storm upon the ravaged earth, resurfaces with a vengeance.
What is present seems both complete and incomplete, a possible parable of the theme. A near-inertia visits and re-expands, fading in and out, turning its soft edges forward. In like manner, the pandemic began before we noticed it, and continues to retreat in increments. Given all the global events of the past two years, it’s unusual to think of inertia, but Peters captures the spirit we felt: nothing moving forward, nothing getting better, the color wheel spinning, the clock hand ticking in place, and in the end, as in the beginning, the waves crashing against the shore. (Richard Allen)