Anne Guthrie
Codiaeum variegatum


4.0
excellent

Review

by MisterTornado CONTRIBUTOR (47 Reviews)
March 11th, 2014 | 37 replies


Release Date: 02/18/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Capturing nature's abstract melody

The Codiaeum variegatum is a species of evergreen shrub native to the western Pacific Ocean islands, growing in open scrub and forests. Its image, gracing the cover of Anne Guthrie’s latest record of the same name, acts as the symbolic representation of her approach to music; taking simultaneously organic and natural occurrences and structuring them around classically composed instrumentation. Captured through the guise of a parabolic microphone (a microphone that uses a circular reflector to collect and focus sound waves onto a receiver), the fleeting, whimsical, and often volatile randomness of nature is as every bit an instrument here as Guthrie’s arrangements on French horn, violoncello, and contrabass. Just as the Codiaeum variegatum is vivid, natural, and lively in its natural state, Guthrie’s harmonious compositions of universal and classically trained phenomena are similarly spirited and stimulating in ways that go far beyond the reaches of traditional music and sound.

In Guthrie’s attempt to capture nature with her microphone and recording devices, it would be laborious to sit through a series of uninterrupted field recordings with the sole objective of capturing nature at its most transparent and linear, so rather than focus on absolute purity, her field recordings act as fading and momentary fragments of time around her wandering orchestral arrangements. A series of deeply moaning violoncello and contrabass guide the opener “Branching Low and Spreading” into swollen and sepia-toned states before concentrating on greener pastures by way of flourishing natural happening such as feathery bird calls, whispering wind tones, and a distant waterfall. Consequently “Strongly Leaning with Irregular Crown” follows suit with a few minutes of seamlessly collaged water flow and isolated bird chants, while a sparse orchestral drone hums in the background before warping into a state of nothingness within its peaceful surroundings. Later static and winds of deformed French horn blow away the serene field recordings into a state of decay, predicting the impending surreal and abstract play on melody that’s to come.

Codiaeum variegatum’s predominantly lush and tranquil field recordings become corrosive and disintegrated on “Unlike More Slender and Graceful”, as a hollow tunnel of electronically perished textures swallow the abundance of life throughout the record whole, while following concurrently coarse and faint horn bellows. “Long Pendulous” whimpers alongside exceedingly depraved horn obscurities as a thick and foreboding span of muffled natural sound expands the background, while an unsettling and screeching noise later flattens out the spiking horn strains into a series of tumorous low-end drones. The acutely titled “Rough Above with Uneven Base” twists multiple layers of similarly warped resonance to the point where Guthrie's French horn and field recordings become frighteningly unrecognizable. It’s here where Guthrie’s ability to transform the original atmosphere of her recordings to the point of abstraction, be it in the field or with live instrumentation, makes Codiaeum variegatum an unusually eccentric, ambitious, and singular experience within an already unconventional frame.

Being a species of plant that relies on tropical climates to blossom and flourish, we find Codiaeum variegatum ending with the cold and bitter resonance of “Persists into Winter”, a mournful ambient piece that mutates its bleak contrabass arrangement to the sound of a funeral organ, as the unforgiving intensity of winter strips the Codiaeum variegatum of its kaleidoscopic leaves and reduces it to a hanging, skeletal branch in the wind. Codiaeum variegatum captures the outside world in a fixed, surreal, and hallucinatory state, documenting the cycle of life from growth and blossoming to death and decay. Its elements, rooted in the natural and dreamlike, take specific environments and obscure their sonic identities while processing seemingly organic sounds into melodic sounds. While often these sounds are accidental through nature or improvised through instrumentation, Codiaeum variegatum is programmatic by principal through Guthrie’s precise process of layering, sequencing, and obscuring of the natural and unnatural; creating sound worlds that are inherently subtle and distant, yet hazy and buried by the vanishing of memory.



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3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2014


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sample it: http://studentsofdecay.com/post/59038637275/anne-guthrie-codiaeum-variegatum

CaptainDooRight
March 11th 2014


29881 Comments


'growing in open scrub and forests'

*a scrub is a guy that don't get no love from mei, 'shrub'

Great review. Very knowledgeable and I love how you incorporated the environmental aspects into the musical execution.

'so rather than focus on absolute purity, her field recordings act as fading and momentary fragments of time around her wandering orchestral arrangements'

^great line

'Being a species of plant that relies on tropical climates to blossom and flourish, we find Codiaeum variegatum ending with the cold and bitter resonance of'

man, some great tie ins. Gotta say you're one of my fav writers. Keep up the great work.

In regards to the music: I listened to everything off the link: Sounds very earthy indeed. I actually traveled with my wife to Belize and had the privilege of tubing through their caves deep in the jungle and 'Persists into Winter' greatly reminded me of the eerie yet serene feeling of utter blackness. Cool stuff indeed.

Digging: Impetuous Ritual - Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2014


20987 Comments


In Guthrie’s attempt to capture nature with her microphone and recording devices, it would be laborious to sit through a series of uninterrupted field recordings with the sole objective of capturing nature at its most transparent and linear, so rather than focus on absolute purity, her field recordings act as fading and momentary fragments of time around her wandering orchestral arrangements.


Sold.

Havey
March 11th 2014


9699 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

love the first couple of tracks

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2014


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i know it looks off captain, but scrub is actually the right term there. thats really interesting
captain, i can only imagine what it'd be like to experience that. also check out guthrie's Perhaps A
Favorable Organic Moment

CaptainDooRight
March 11th 2014


29881 Comments


MT - oh right. I was going off first instincts. I was wrong. Just looked up some secondary descriptions and without fail 'low trees of shrubs collectively'. Who woulda' thought?

I haven't traveled much, other than a few places. But you saying that makes me think of all the things I HAVEN'T experienced. Some you have. Some I have. But yeah it was a great experience besides the other ones there i.e. mayan temples, swimming with stingrays[a mile out in the actual ocean/carribean], great food, ect.

Cool, I'll check that out.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2014


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Right haha. When I was first researching the plant that term seemed completely off, but eventually it
made sense when I came across a proper definition. That's fantastic, I've actually never been out of
the states myself. Most of my extravagant traveling happens in the woods behind my house ~

CaptainDooRight
March 11th 2014


29881 Comments


Nice, goes to show, depending on where you live, you don't have to travel far to experience earth's beauties and gems. I wish we had more forest-like areas where I live. In Cali, the closest would be maybe off some hiking trails or camp sites but that all requires travel and planning and sometimes money. If you don't mind me asking, what state do you live in?

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2014


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Definitely. Missouri - beyond all the open farmland there's a ton of dense forests scattered throughout the place. One just happens to be right behind me

CaptainDooRight
March 11th 2014


29881 Comments


That's awesome you're in that choice location. I've never been anywhere near MO but my boss lives in
IL so that's obvs right over. At least you guys get winter out there. We've had the lousiest winter
ever out here, not to mention we're in a drought.


I was able to listen to the Bach Cello Suite Prelude off 'Perhaps a Favorable Organic Moment'. It's
the only track I could find off YT[may check some other sources] but it's quite inducing. Those
underlays of sirens and horns fused quite nicely into the drone-like atmosphere of 'space'.
Interestingly, the artwork for it looks ridiculously similar to the one I did for Fripp:
http://www.sputnikmusic.com/soundoff.php?albumid=150088

Well keep electrifyin' bro maine.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2014


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mhm, the winter's here capture some gorgeous pictures. Although we're so up and down weather wise its difficult to know how exactly the day's going to look (which I suppose is a good and bad thing). Haha it does, I love that artwork. If you've got soulseek you could easily find it on there. Speaking of Fripp, check out Travis and Fripp's Discretion (a collab between Theo Travis and Robert Fripp) if you get the chance. Some fantastic atmospheric jazz there.

CaptainDooRight
March 11th 2014


29881 Comments


Yeah def a good AND bad thing. Spontaneity is nice but gettin' caught ina snowstorm with me tank would be devastating. I'll have to grab that off SS in that case, along with many many other goodies. I've heard some of Fripps stuff but didnt he did that collab so I'll def check it. It best be up to par with The Caretaker ^-^

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2014


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well to be fair nothing is on par with The Caretaker ;) It's very h a u n t i n g nonetheless ~

CaptainDooRight
March 11th 2014


29881 Comments


Right, agreed. What was I thinking. We'll I'll get own dat. Thanks for the recs.

treeqt.
March 12th 2014


9704 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice review nice discussion hi pos'd great thread would read again keep on rocking

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 12th 2014


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

mhm mhm, have you been anywhere euphoric in your travels tree?

RiffOClock
April 7th 2014


1051 Comments


so good

wish i could pirate this bitch, though. listening to streams is hella uncomfortable

treeqt.
April 7th 2014


9704 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

well you can why dont you why wont you why is it that you cant

mindleviticus
April 7th 2014


8292 Comments


yea it's sweet

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2014


20987 Comments


Still gotta hear this.



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