Andrew Weathers & Seth Chrisman: Louella
With each of Louella's sides presenting a single long-form piece of approximately twenty-one minutes duration, Andrew Weathers (Full Spectrum Records co-founder) and Seth Chrisman (aka Widesky) have effectively tailored their first collaborative effort to the cassette format, though in a perfect world it'd be available as a twelve-inch vinyl release, too (a digital version is also available).
There's a relaxed spirit to the recording's contents that to some degree can be accounted for by production details. In December of 2013, Weathers and Chrisman ventured to a remote spot in Washington state's Olympic National Forest where they fashioned a studio of sorts at a decommissioned Forest Service guard station. When not soaking up the natural surroundings, the two improvised using guitars, lo-fi synthesizers, banjo, and location recordings. During post-production, care was taken to preserve the loose feel of what they'd recorded, and consequently little more than refinements in volume and equalization were applied to the tracks.
Any urge to reduce the tracks to distinct focal points, specifically Weathers' American folk playing and Chrisman's textural sound-painting, should be suppressed in favour of hearing the material as integrations of kindred sensibilities. The two work patiently, shaping the material into dense, drone-like assemblages that stretch out confidently. Layers of guitars and synthesizers dance together in a constant ebb and flow, each instrument sound swelling in volume as it briefly occupies the forefront before receding. With the music breathing calmly and embracing moments of near-stasis, synthesizers twinkle alongside the lazy pluck of an acoustic guitar during “Rare Palms,” and an organic flow of delicate instrumental colour develops. “Dungeness Spit” immediately distances itself from its brethren by the presence of banjo, but not at the expense of sacrificing the mood of contemplative reverie established so carefully by the opening setting. One of the most memorable moments in “Dungeness Spit” arises in the form of a call-and-response episode between the banjo and a treated string instrument, a sequence that eventually mutates into a fragile drone embellished with nature-based field recordings and a sparkling close of flickering plucks and strums.
Musical details aside, the recording's unhurried and contemplative qualities are some of the most appealing things about it. As a refreshing antidote to the frenetic tenor of the wired world and city life, Louella works wonderfully well.