Coppice Halifax :: Multi-review (Milieu Music)

In contrast to a number of other artists who release untold amounts of studio material, Coppice Halifax displays a real duty of care to his genre. At the same time, it seems to flow so effortlessly. Like Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral, investigating the variations of light and colour on its façade in different seasons, at different times of the day, he returns to the same subject, bringing out different sensations.

Coppice Halifax / Monoaxial 'ABX10'

Coppice Halifax The “listening techno” of Coppice Halifax captured my imagination with Ocean Lion, a kind of a masterpiece, in 2008. Out of South Carolina, Brian Grainger has been releasing reams of music on his limited edition CDR imprint Milieu Music for several years now, under a variety of noms-de-musique, including Milieu, a beatless ambient project with a discography that dwarves even the impressive Coppice Halifax collection, TMA3, Vhom, Parallax and of course his given name. He also runs two more labels with ambient artist David Tagg.

Coppice Halifax is far more than the profuse reiteration of an idea, but rather an exploration of theme and timbre within the flexible confines of a genre in which the beat is rigid but melody and texture sensuous, stroking right up against your skin. Truth be told, most dub techno/dub ambient hews to the same, well-trodden path, with a few, splendid exceptions. Coppice Halifax inhabits a coherent soundworld but one whose landscape undulates like a mirage. He scouts out and delivers new, vivid vistas with each new release. His discography is a cornucopia of themed series, thoughtful packaging and boxed sets and unique offers, including Commission—for a set fee, he will tailor-make a full-length work for you. I don’t know whether anyone has taken him up on it yet. It’s an altogether fascinating enterprise and it has really only just begun.

In the past twelve months or so, Grainger has released some twenty Coppice Halifax discs. He reached down into the pile and grabbed a handful for me to hear.

Dusk Versions pulses like the cooling off of the earth as the sun sets and the circadian rhythm enters its rest phase. Six broad variations on a theme stretched languorously over a near hour.

Distances remixes the lawn sprinkler rhythm of fellow dub traveller Textural Being’s “Tiefenwahrnehmung” and is an exercise in sonic depth perception. One version goes deep, the other virtually burrows itself into the soil to aerate it from within before shooting back up through the surface, a new, thickly-petalled flower which seeds an entire garden. Beautifully built up.

The title track of Amber Castles takes little pointillist stabs, while “Birthday (Version),” is a happy, lo-fi pop melody broadcast on a transmitter from Marconi’s days. “Midnight Coastline” assays a long, rapier-edged electric guitar denouement. Endless Acre was recorded live to tape in a single session and is a tour-de-force not unreminiscent of Manuel Göttsching’s classic E2-E4, but with a lot more personality, one which shifts from tempermental and brash to coy and pliant by the eighth of its eleven, linked sections. Although an hour long, it moves by a such a clip the end comes quickly, though when it does, it is lusciously dragged out over nine minutes.

Midnight Snax has the deepest of dubby openings, dopplering back and forth, making the rhythms appear thick and chunky or light and limpid by turns. The “Pine 2A” version is quacky and rubbery and introduces a trance-like marimba loop and fanfare of clarion synths. “Carbonated” is suitably fizzy and features a nice little funky riff caught in its bubbles. “Milkwhite” begins sounding frail and dessicated, as if suffering from a calcium deficiency, but as it settles, it proves rich and fleet. Some of the quack is back in “Pine 2B,” though more heavily dubbed and veiled in a queasy, shifting haze. Compost Dub goes from wet to dry; dubbing and repurposing material from Compost Springtime Shed, a wash of organic matter sluiced through a revolving trommel, separating rich humus from the slag before drying it off in a “restructural” version.

ABX10 features seventy-two minutes of alternating currents of Monoaxial (Sven Scheinhammer, much more familiar as Quantec) and Coppice Halifax, concluding with mutual remixes. Monoaxial’s tracks tend to plunge right in and insist on your attention, though “Debarkation” is a softer piece which long circles the drain, while Coppice Halifax tends to waft toward you. As we near the end, Monoaxial remixes the already twice-mentioned “Pine,”—a great, elastic track from 2009’s Pine Yellow album—blowing helium into it until it expands to translucence, while Coppice Halifax returns the favour by injecting “Pale” with bright, bouncy colour.

In contrast to a number of other artists who release untold amounts of studio material, Coppice Halifax displays a real duty of care to his genre. At the same time, it seems to flow so effortlessly. Like Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral, investigating the variations of light and colour on its façade in different seasons, at different times of the day, he returns to the same subject, bringing out different sensations.

For more info about Coppice Halifax and/or Milieu, visit www.milieu-music.com or purchase releases on the web-shop.

 

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