Pigeons 'The Bower' LP and Black Dirt Oak & Jantar's 'Presage' 12" MIE 031 & MIE 032
Get both of these new releases on MIE in a bundle deal. 2 for £20 plus postage, saving £4.
Words on Pigeons 'The Bower:
There's a house situated amongst the knobby hills of the eastern section of the Hudson Valley in New York. It is, if one were to take flight into the bright springtime skies, a slight structure dwarfed by the looming spires that surround, slightly wavering in the upper breeze, stretching east toward the ocean, north towards the border, south towards the big city, and west towards America. In our new lives, buoyed by satellite perspectives, it is the proverbial needle in a haystack. But for years there have been somewhat secluded and secretive musical goings on in the room between the domestic area and the over-stuffed garage. Beyond the large, sun dappled bay windows, more than a generation ago a man, a pioneer in his field, his race, took his music to the north country and began to move the air inside this room, vibrating the wooden walls, opening those little portals some of us believe allow the magic to seep through, no matter how many years later.
Now here we are, in those later years, and a small group of sonic voyagers have roosted in this space once again. Pigeons have arrived at this uncommon structure, The Bower, via oceanic travels around the Pacific Northwest with the Sea Donkeys... through early duo explorations with tape machines and tube sock mallet percussion and saxophones and a drum machine named Sammy in pre-shiny-curbed Brooklyn... and after an extended stay in the South Bronx, stretching to trio and quartet formats honing the infernal concept of songcraft and the shell game sleight of hand wizardry concerning listener expectations. They're more than a handful of releases into their sonic narrative and this record on the MIE label is an explosion of change.
They are in the midst of their longest running lineup, with Wednesday Knudsen and Clark Griffin augmented by Rob Smith on drums and voice, tho' this particular configuration is new to anyone save those who have seen the band perform live since their last full length. They have invited you back into their home after years rooting around the confines of the studio seeking their very particular, and peculiar, forms of clarity. Roles have changed, song structures have more movement, richer textures, greater surprises. For one long weekend about a year after full time occupation of the house in the woods, the trio, perfectly captured by Mike Fellows manning the board, laid down the songs carved deep in the grooves of this slab (or, conversely, encoded mysteriously in the fabric of zeros and ones.) Some know-it-alls will hear a wide breadth of influences; some will research the band's past and compare fleeting words to current sound with the grace of holding a handful of the ocean at the shore; others will be confounded, befuddled, and tickled with the possibility of the old new noise pop lullaby prog earthly outer space future sounds of the band. Regardless, this is a new mach, and the blazing arc across the skies outside of your window is the remnant of the band moving on to even newer sonic destinations.
- Jason Meagher
Words on Black Dirt Oak & Jantar - Presage 12":
Presage is an LP less split than twinned, like stars, each side pulled into a mesmerising gravitational dance by the other's backspin. Black Dirt Oak and Jantar, siblings of sibilance and site, complete one another's sentences in a dark and uncanny psychic psalmistry. For their part, Black Dirt Oak stomps out a series of chthonic ur-grooves, filthy bare feet splintered by silicon shards and splashing in puddles of molten rare earths. They kick up a black angel dust of decaying carbon-based lifeforms mingled with that of pulverized electronics, and the plume rises into the welcoming embrace of this album's other side, its sky. Jantar unfurls their canopy in a processional of single piano notes, bowed mists and skeins of flute light as cirrus. Once adrift, the vapors and star-like entities synchronize and calibrate themselves to a mysterious lunar pageant, a watery and flowing tide of incantatory voices pulled high behind its own luminous gravity.
The two sides of Presage are distinct but describe in tandem the elemental contours of a shared world: namely, that of Black Dirt Studio and these musicians, some of whom have been recording here in other more familiar constellations for a decade now. Like the Dog Star Sirius, whose heliacal rising presages the wet season of planting and fertility, this twin system also rises, and hopefully augurs well for continued fertility and sonic flooding upon the plains of the lush Wawayanda region and this proven studio.