Sage and his collaborators’ more experimental habits are trimmed down into stoic passages of compartmentalization. Melodies become rhythmic patterns, yet the bubbling brooks, lazy waves, and stiff breezes of nature provide the areas of spontaneity.
Favorite track: Launching Mossy Scow.
m and his deep bench launch us down futuro-pastoral eddies that bouy and occasionally baptise us, drawing us through eons-carved (or only just dredged by recent catastrophic floodwaters?) canyons of ambly-ent sixth-world folk-jass, evoking both a difficult tonic and a possibly hopeful requiem for all this loss with which we are yet to grapple. highest recommendation despite my pretentious review.
Favorite track: Sail-Shaped Light.
Matthew Sage is about seeing the big picture, but focused through the most intimate and personal lens possible. Best exemplified on the gauzy, cartographical opus 'A Singular Continent', as well as his impulsively meditative Geographic North debut 'Catch a Blessing', Sage’s imagination yields fully realized sonic suites to worlds both imaginary and referential to his own.
Now, the Chicago-based composer, producer, label owner, and publisher returns with 'The Wind of Things', a personal and pastoral oblation to the wild and wind-blown waters and mountains, both from Sage’s own memory and writ large. Absent are the processed sounds and filters that have come to define Sage's work; the album finds Sage stripping away the synthesized sounds that alchemied his past work into aural gold, instead favoring an entirely acoustic and natural
Sage called upon a myriad of long-time collaborators, who together form the aptly-titled Spinnaker Ensemble (featuring Patrick Shiroishi, Chaz Pyrmek, Nate Henricks, Chris Jusell, Allison Sheldon, Martin Albertz, David Hirsch, Matt Wenzel, and Ang Wilson) to help realize his vision and further the melodic potential of the living and breathing field recordings that permeate the album. Tapping into an intimate sense of self, these field recordings derive from natural places that are significant to Sage. Lakes, mountains, and rivers he grew up boat-racing on and swimming in; tall fields of grass in rural Nebraska near his family’s birthplaces; wildlife on the pond of his in-laws home in Texas; the harbors and beaches of Lake Michigan that he frequents; all serving as places of occupation for these compositions to live in and blow through.
Opener “Cloud Plexus” is a fog-laden float in a calm lake of unrestrained optimism. The serenity soon glissades into “Harbor Dive”, a shimmering and elegant rift of sloshing harmonies. “Launching Mossing Scow” finds its flourish in the flotsam, tinkering with rusted refrains and oblong melodies. The action quickens with “Zephyr: Ponderosa Pollen,” charting a speedy course with only a shoddy sonic sextant as its guide. “Starboard Reach” offers a moment of playful clarity before “Luffing Adrift” and “Sail-Shaped Light,” a murky pool of darkness and light that ripples into the ether.
“Slipping the Mooring/Pond” opens the B-side in an amorphous din of familiar auditory accoutrements that gather into a single, slow-motion blur. “Dazzling Shallow Bay,” “Portside Mark,” and “Tell Tail Tale” play a dreamlike suite of a waterside piano finding its fins and diving below the waves, discovering its blithe buoyancy, and exploring the depths unencumbered by the weight of the world. The hopeful meditation of “Spinnaker on a Southerly” serves as a calm before the (rain)storm that is “Hiked Way Out,” a welcome reflection on past, present, and future maritime melancholia.
released April 16, 2021
PERSONNEL AND INFORMATION:
acoustic guitar, piano, flute, whistle, bells, autoharp, harmonica, banjo, voice, violin, percussion, field recordings.
Accompanied by the Spinnaker Ensemble:
Martin Albertz - Piano (13)
Nate Henricks - Viola, Trumpet (1, 7)
David Hirsch - Slide Guitar (3, 6)
Mercy Bish Jelly - Musical Saw (13)
Chris Jusell - Violin (2, 6, 11)
Chaz Prymek - Harmonium (2, 12)
Allison Sheldon - Cello (1, 12)
Patrick Shiroishi - Tenor Saxophone (4), Clarinet (12)
Matt Wenzel - Tenor Saxophone (8), Banjo (1,8)
Ang Wilson - Flute (2, 7, 11, 12)
Recorded in Late Summer thru Late Fall of 2019. Portage Park, Chicago, Illinois.
Field Recordings from: Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin.
Photographs by Peggy Sage
Audio mastering for digital and vinyl by Sean McCann
Layout and design by Farbod Kokabi
Tiffanie Lynette, Mick & Peggy, Roger & Bobbie, Siblings & Niblings. Dave & Nathaniel. Bobby & Farbod. Sean. Shayne. The accompanying musicians, too, thanks! Also, many wild locales and the winds and water there that fill a memory: Lake McConaughy, Carter Lake, Grand Lake, Lake Dillon, Lake Michigan, Shadow Mountain Lake, Horsetooth Reservoir, Big Thompson River, Cache La Poudre River, the Piney Woods.