Slow Grass has appeared in various forms in recent years, including a digital EP by Lake Mary and Patrick Shiroishi in 2020 and an eight-minute offering with Oxherding in 2021. The full 40-minute version is now presented on Whited Sepulchre: two distinct sides of emerald green vinyl. The color is crucial, as the title refers to Chaz Prymek (Lake Mary)’s dog Favorite, who in the last months of his life could do naught but lie down in the green grass and stare wistfully at the vista. The album is an expression of empathy; when Shiroishi sings tenderly on the first side, one thinks of a human companion lying on the grass alongside the suffering friend, stroking his fur, telling him it’s okay not to run or chase, because love is still near. Many of us, human or canine, may one day be in a similar situation, needing comfort and company, words less important than tone.
The field recordings evoke the vast meadow, the seeming nearness of birds, as far away as distant health. The distance between notes, especially on the first side, reflects the sluggishness of days, the timelessness of memory. When one of the players begins to whistle, it is not to call a canine companion, but to entertain with wordless song.
The music will gradually grow busier as other contributors enhance Prymek’s primitive guitar. Shiroishi also plays his famous saxophone and clarinet, while Chris Jusell plays violins and Paul DeHaven contributes synth. Although the whole piece is titled “Slow Grass,” Side B is subtitled “So Long Favorite,” which sounds like the saddest side ever played, but quite the contrary. The end of Side A has already begun to hint toward gratitude, and Side B seems like a celebration.
“So Long Favorite” begins in pensive fashion then turns uphill, like a soul leaving the body and running through the fields once more, or a human watching old videos with thankful tears. The singing briefly returns, the acoustic primitive style shifts subtly to post-rock, and the mood lifts. The verdant green begins to symbolize the moss beneath one’s feet more than the fields out of reach. Favorite is bounding, barking, beckoning. By the end, players and listeners alike reach a state that one might call contentment.
Wouldn’t we all hope to be remembered so well? (Richard Allen)