One of the arguments for the superiority of the 12” LP over other formats was the ability to include better artwork, that glorious 12” square cover, the liner notes large and in your hands, but while there have been some very nice 12” packages, Third Kind Records have been showing that the tape format can compete as well. Recent release, MAbH’s On Being Pollinated comes in a custom tape sleeve designed to look like an old book, and it really is a beautiful thing to behold. Thankfully the contents of the cassette don’t disappoint.
All stages of life are represented here in a collage of tape loops, field recordings, keyboards and more, which, in the early tracks, combine to form a delicately beautiful soundtrack to summer fields, where bees and other insects buzz around, as butterflies and fairies flutter past, snatches of their conversations drifting on the breeze, rivers and brooks bubble in the background.
The album progresses through winter, the loops getting bleak and cold on the tracks ‘Sand Army 78’ and ‘Dreaming In The Dirt’ before spring returns, time passes and the dormant plants and insects start their dance once more, the soundtrack for a lost abstract nature documentary from the 1970’s.
The album closes on the funereal track ‘Silenzio Marzabotto’ – The Silence of Marzabotto – referencing the site of a massacre during the Second World War, perhaps showing humanity’s wanton disregard for all of Earth’s inhabitants, destroying itself in the process.
Ambient music is too often relegated and restricted to ‘chill out’ or ‘contemplative’ and it can be easy to create some drones and some nice chord pads and leave it at that. What sets the good ambient apart from meandering new age noodlings and turns it into a work art is the strength of the concept behind the music and how well that concept is visualized through the music. From concept to execution, with On Being Pollinated, MAbH has proved that, in this case, you can judge a book by its cover.