“Arbor 1” is the first track I recorded for this album, back in November 2019. After years of making purely ambient music, I played a cover set as Suicide on Halloween 2017. This experience rekindled my love of drum machines, which I went on to use on my 2019 album True Neutral. Arbor 1 is a direct continuation of True Neutral, using some of the same source samples.
These recordings were untitled until Summer 2020, when I took a trip to the Catskills. I played an early version of “Arbor 2” to my friend Dan Goldberg (who performs as The Spookfish) while hiking, and subsequently I started to mentally associate these recordings with the forest, eventually leading me to title the album Arbor.
Many of my favorite songs involve a wash of guitars over a simple rhythm (e.g. Cat Power’s “American Flag,” Brian Eno’s “The Big Ship,” and Windy & Carl’s “Lighthouse”). I didn’t really plan it that way, but “Arbor 3” ended up reflecting these influences a little more closely than I expected.
Arbor 4 & 6
Tracks 4 and 6 were recorded at home in Spring 2020, and are fairly representative of my headspace during that time. The drum sounds on these tracks are sourced from a Casio SK-1, played back at 25% speed. The instruments that sound like synth pads are actually violins and mellotron flutes played at half speed, reinforcing the slow motion effect.
“Arbor 5” is the last track I recorded for this album, in Summer/Fall 2020. I resampled a loop from “Arbor 1” and overlaid it with a dense patchwork of strings, mellotrons, and syrupy guitar sounds. It was around this time that I first started talking with Kerry from Soap Library about releasing the album. I was excited to work with the label because of their practice of releasing each cassette with supplemental material (e.g. a vial of argon gas, an iron-on patch, a magnesium firestarter, an aromatherapy sniffer). Arbor is released alongside a small container of chaga mushrooms and a text-based choose-your-own-adventure game.
I wrote the Arbor computer game in the last few weeks of 2020, referencing the post-apocalyptic/overgrown vegetation imagery of the cassette’s album art (by Lando from Decadence Comics). As the game progresses, players will notice randomized glitches in the text output; these glitches increase in frequency until the game text is all but obscured, rendering the story incomprehensible. I have always enjoyed artworks that exploit a property of a medium in order to destroy themselves, as in Alvin Lucier’s I am Sitting in a Room or William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops. The Arbor game is my attempt at applying self-destructive techniques to computer-based text output, hiding within an adventure game context.
On a Different Note:
- Track-by-Track: Broken Chip – Inside//Outside EP
- Track-by-Track: Cerca – Khalum Zilam
- Track-by-Track: Body in the Thames – Public Domain 3D Terrain
- Track-by-Track: Darren j Holloway – Salt Heart
- Upcoming Livestreams: The Concerning of Amaranth