The Green Kingdom: Prismatic
Home Assembly

No one's nerves will be set on edge during the playing of Michael Cottone's latest The Green Kingdom collection, Prismatic, and that's no bad thing. There's certainly more than enough to get stressed about in these turbulent times, so another finely wrought helping of ambient electroacoustic pastoralia goes down just fine in these parts, thank you very much. Tampering little with the formula he's worked with on previous outings, Cottone again brings into being quietly uplifting meditations filled with evocative micro-sound detail and wistful summer splendour. The prototypical track by The Green Kingdom embeds tiny slivers of processed bell tones, treated guitars, electronic textures, and thumb piano plucks within placid ponds of thick crackle and surface noise, and warms the results with harmonious rays of early morning ambiance.

“Radiance Reflected” finds The Green Kingdom paddling through the same waters as The Boats, as fragments of melody shimmer like sunlight reflections off a water's surface while a faint bass drum pattern resounds down below. A luscious microcosm of The Green Kingdom style, “Wetlands” also shows how close in sensibility The Green Kingdom sometimes is to The Boats. In this case, the gentle swirl of piano accents, acoustic strums, vinyl crackle, and assorted other textures coleasces into five slighty hallucinatory minutes that's like a sunstroke-induced daze. In another's hands, “The Largest Creature That Has Ever Existed” might have been an overwhelming onslaught designed to mimic the titular creature's size; in The Green Kingdom's universe, the creature must be a friendly giant of some kind, judging by the delicate swells of haze and crackle that slowly drift through the song.

Bolstering Prismatic's appeal is the fact that the limited edition release includes a hour-long, ten-track remix CD featuring contributions from The Boats, Part-Timer, Fieldhead, The Declining Winter, and Bvdub, among others. Bonus CDs are often footnotes to the release proper, but this one's clearly the exception to the rule. Insecto's “Claude's Ghost” enlivens the original's sleepy countryside ambiance with syncopated clicking rhythms, H.A.M.'s “A Prayer” becomes a velvety disco swoon powered by a breezy acid-inflected pulse, Northerner recasts “The Largest Creature That Has Ever Existed” as a haunted techno thumper scented with opium, The Boats turns “Radiance Reflected” into a surprisingly aggressive beat workout that distances itself dramatically from Cottone's original, and Bvdub stretches “Wetlands” into a thirteen-minute “Crossing Changxi” mix whose silken loops of piano droplets and electronics bear Brock Van Wey's indelible signature (though the breakbeats that suddenly charge in do come as a bit of a surprise). If anything, the stylistic range exemplified by the remixers' versions suggests multiple pathways Cottone himself might be wise to consider pursuing in order to keep The Green Kingdom project from settling too comfortably into a singular, predictable style.

November 2010