Windy and Carl: The Dream House/Dedications to Flea

When it was first issued a number of months ago as part of Brainwashed's Handmade series, Dedications to Flea seemed a fascinating curio, a touching tribute created by Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren in remembrance of their deceased German Shepherd-Alaskan Malamute mix Flea. Now reissued in a double-disc kranky package alongside The Dream House, nothing has changed in the Dedications to Flea recording itself. It's still comprised of two tracks, each one approximately nineteen minutes in duration (having made two recordings of Flea during walks, Windy & Carl recorded spontaneously alongside them). Constructed from multiple layers of delicate guitar filigrees, “Ode to a Dog” still exudes its placid, crystalline ambiance and subtly intimates the dog's presence by way of faint scratching noises (the dog's paws shuffling along the sidewalk), and the darker and more drone-like “Sketch for Flea” still couples the dog's prominent panting and barking with stormier guitar blur. Only the coldest heart would be resistant to the project's charm, and all dog owners who likewise have had to bid adieu to their beloved compadres will recognize the heartache the pair describe in their liner notes. Yet while the material is affecting, pairing it with The Dreamhouse lends it an additional air of gravitas it doesn't have on its own.

Recorded at their home studio in Dearborn, The Dream House (the name inspired by LaMonte Young's NY loft space) similarly consists of two cathartic tracks but in this case it's Weber's mother who is memorialized. After her death in April 2001, the group took a break before recording the disc's pieces, the half-hour meditation “The Eternal Struggle” and the less epic, twelve-minute “I Have Been Waiting to Hear Your Voice.” When the first piece was written during the ‘90s, Weber visualized a rice paddy and imagined the music to “represent the work of a day, of Asian fields of green growing grass and workers in straw hats listening to birds and working their fingers to the bone”; when the duo opened a Terry Riley concert in July 2001 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Windy & Carl dedicated the performance of “The Eternal Struggle” to her mother. In the recorded version, the soft organ shimmer that acts as a drone center imbues it with a cathedralesque character that's ultimately deepened by the gradual layering of guitars. The blurry mass of oceanic sound drifts peacefully, with delicate peals and strums slowly emerging before being re-absorbed into the pulsating mass until only the organ and tinkling chimes remain. The ebow guitar sound that streams through the mournful “I Have Been Waiting to Hear Your Voice” exudes a blunt-edged nasal tone that will remind many listeners of Robert Fripp. While the four pieces comprising The Dream House/Dedications to Flea share drone qualities, they engender radically different associations during this marvelous recording's eighty-minute span.

November 2005