Alex Freilich of Washington State, USA records as Cedar Dreamer. “Enveloped by Earth and Sky” (cassette limited to 50 copies/ digital) is his first full solo release, after a split with Organelle with whom he has just been on tour with. I keep the music for the blog on an alphabetical queue and after listening to the recently reviewed/released Caught in Wake Forever + glacis cassette, this album was up next and instantly made me pay attention to it. Having elements of drone, field recordings, ambience, folk and even psych rock, Cedar Dreamer infuses his own take on Ambient/Drone with an Americana flavor.
“A Collection of Aural Meditations on the inner spirits of Place. Learned lessons from years of observation and participation in the Wild…sinking in., watching the cycles and patterns of life unfold. This living Earth is all we have; it is all we have ever had. As always, this album is dedicated to the ones who fight for the sake of wild beauty and Life.”
“Black Hills Reverie” slowly opening with field recordings of a torrential downpour, drones start to stretch out to a point where there are several of them inhabiting different space and sound. From the likes of haunting ambient ones through to more distant and droning, they compliment the field recordings which to the end start to become noisier and percussive. After a brief fade out the track changes to the almost psych rock style I mentioned before. Multitracked vocals, cymbals (possibly even gongs), bass drums and guitars bring forth a psych meets drone meets doom approach that has a heaviness, but also an organic quality. The doom guitar drones reverberate with heavy distortion tying in nicely with the percussion. Field recordings and acoustic guitar increase the organic feel as multiple layers of guitars fill the sound with varying textures. Freilich is a member of the atmospheric Black Metal band With The End In Mind which, like Cedar Dreamer has a personal interest in nature and the earth, which is clearly noticed on this release.
“Winter’s Sleeping Heart” starting with a looped ambient opening, the music changes to a wind soaked ambience that is oscillating and growing in intensity. The early feeling in the track is pure ‘lying back, looking to the sky’ ambience as multiple layers of drones shift in tectonic plates. After a brief fade out guitar of the post rock variety as well as acoustic guitar, thumping percussion and voices take the track in a tribal direction that balances the instrumentation nicely. All of a sudden it’s as if a breeze has blown away the instrumentation as the drones are stormy and feint flickers of guitars and percussion remain. Rain on a tin roof adds to the weather soaked environment as the guitar generate drones rather than notes. Emerging from the storm the guitar starts to form chords once more with the post rockish tones from earlier and as they grow the voices return, crashing cymbals and waves of distortion are also added. As the track moves on it becomes less about the guitars and more focused on percussion and sounds to create complimentary environmental and stormy soundscapes.
“To Swim in Solitude” the albums epic clocking in at over seventeen and a half minutes in length, is almost an album in itself due to the various different movements and styles contained within. If you were to pigeonhole it, it would be Ambient/ Drone/Post Metal. It starts off with a slow burn fusing layers of drones with field recordings with distortion and reverb before guitars shimmer and cascade across and the sound begins to get all encompassing with cymbals crashing, rain pouring and a heavy undertone. The track then moves through a section composed almost entirely of field recordings and a sharp tone before retreating. As it rebuilds, guitar ambientce starts to shadow across which leads to the apex of the track with ringing guitars, cascading drones, tribal percussion, voices and smashing cymbals. Its like the music that was rumbling before has reached the point where it cannot be contained any more and it has just erupted. After this release of energy, the music retreats and fade away to leave a tranquil field recording that sounds like it was recorded by a stream with water flowing, bird song and a sense of overwhelming release.
If you are looking for a release that exists with the stylistic framework of Ambient/Drone with the relaxing and comforting addition of field recordings, but looking for something that pushes outward with volume and intensity, then look no further. Cedar Dreamer’s music breathes new life into a genre that can get stale from time to time. Recommended.