Brett Naucke ~ Cast a Double Shadow

Thanks to VISUALS Wine’s Ritual of Senses series, with accompanying albums from music imprint Ceremony of Seasons, I have happily accepted the assignment of drinking while writing (or the other way around) on a seasonal basis.  Last season, Ross Gentry’s series debut September heralded the arrival of autumn; now this year, Brett Naucke‘s Cast a Double Shadow celebrates the winter solstice and the months that lie beyond.

As my region has been in a snow drought, it’s nice to be able to hear winter in the sound of sleet and wind in “Instant Memory” and the cheerful chimes of lead single “A Glass Touch.”  Those bells are beautiful and icy, the type whose sound might carry across a long frozen lake.  Although music is not wine, we detect hints of reindeer.  “Double Exposure” tumbles like a music box, or a clock marking the passage of time.  The album itself is offered on icy blue vinyl.

Cast a Double Shadow is paired with Conjured in Shadows, “a Mendocino grown, carbonic macerated Nouveau wine from the 2022 harvest.”  In deference to the season, I’ve opened the bottle with a penguin bottle opener.  The most forward note is boysenberry, with hints of black raspberry beneath.  Might this be a summer wine?  The instructions are to “drink while fresh.”  Fittingly, the album was recorded in summer, the wine bottled in late summer.  Naucke had the more difficult task: to record music in summer that sounds like winter looking back at summer.  Yet it does make sense to bottle summer in this way, for when it is needed.  The music conjures images of cardinals and woodpeckers eating holly berries, winterberries and (perhaps due to the shade) the purple beautyberry.  To drink is to recall Camus’ words, in the midst of winter, I found that there was, within me, an invincible summer.

Though the winter solstice marks the start of winter, it also marks the steady beginning of longer days and increased sunlight.  Yet few people notice this at first, so small the increments.  The first part of the title piece nearly occupies the realm of dark ambience, with piano and precipitation, an invitation, or perhaps even a warning, to remain indoors.  Arriving at the start of Side B, one might receive this as the period of winter following the holidays, when the fun is over and people hunker down.  If the cracks are not sealed, seasonal affective disorder may seep in.  The wine, instead of being a pleasant adornment, may be viewed as an escape.

Thankfully, after this period of introspection, “Pt. II” arrives.  Electronic patterns develop like swirling sculptures in the snow.  One might even make snow angels to this track ~ something that one can do with joy after polishing off a glass or two of the wine.  If only it would snow.  But while listening, one can imagine snow, and nudge toward an appreciation of the season’s story arc: from anticipation to introversion to participation, another quarter-turn of the wheel.  (Richard Allen)

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