Mitch Greer: Everyone has a Photo of the Ocean
If Mitch Greer's name doesn't ring an immediate bell in textura's readers' minds, certainly the name of the group of which he's a member, The Lickets, should (Rachel Smith's the other member, for the record). Numerous reviews of releases by that wonderful outfit have graced these pages over the years, as well as reviews by related side-projects such as Mary St. John and Quintana Jacobsma. As we eagerly await the follow-up to The Lickets' 2011 full-length Here (On Earth), we turn our attention to Greer's Everyone has a Photo of the Ocean, a collection of experiments created between 2006 and 2013 that the experimental-folk musician has seen fit to release as a limited edition cassette (emphasis literally on limited, given the ten copy total) and as a digital download.
Greer's hour-long release is as idiosyncratic as any by The Lickets and filled with just as many unconventional twists and turns, too. One welcome surprise is the presence of pastoral folk settings on the release, the first of which is a lovely two-part setting, “Sky and Forest” and “Flower in the Stone,” featuring acoustic guitar picking and cello (ever the trickster, Greer later revisits the pair under the titles “Sky in Stone” and “Flower in the Sky”). At the recording's center, the title track perpetuates the pastoral folk style while at the same time reshaping it into a somewhat more psychedelic and hazy form.
The release doesn't fixate on one style only, however. Anyone who's been exposed to Greer's previous work will already suspect that something as prosaically titled as “Piano Song” will turn out to sound anything but. In this case, the instrument, initially recognizable as such, undergoes radical transformation as the piece's dozen minutes advance, with what begins as a simple piano pattern gradually morphing into a blurry, slow-motion dronescape. Be forewarned that not everything on Everyone has a Photo of the Ocean is easy on the ears, with an uncompromising noise dimension also asserting itself in the tracks “Spring,” which writhes and groans like some factory machine gorging upon itself, and “The Dragon Gate,” a relentless, twelve-minute ride of cacophonous howl.
Greer's own characterization of the release as a collection of experiments is consistent with its tone, as its nine settings do come across like bedroom productions their creator's decided to make available to the world at large. But such a characterization shouldn't be construed to mean they're sloppy or unfinished so much as emphasize their explorative nature.