Review: The Orchardist – Mercurian Vineyard Surgeries (Nonlocal Research, Feb 22)

Some might say that an element of mystery and wonder associated with underground music is lost in this age of the internet. And it’s true; there’s really nothing like finding that unmarked LP in the bargain bin that blasts lo-fi industrial sounds out of your speaker system when you put it on the table or pulling a cassette wrapped in some sort of felt-like material with no identifying information to be found out of a dusty, forgotten music store shelf. But I’d argue that I came damn close to that pleasing feeling of bewilderment when I came across Mercurian Vineyard Surgeries on Bandcamp the other day. It’s the newest tape from multimedia artist Grant Corum, under his bizarre alter ego The Orchardist – a self-described “cryptopodian composer” (your guess is as good as mine). The album itself is equally odd, with ethereal nature recordings and bubbling water flows sharing space with primitive analog tones and warm synth washes. Stated as being recorded entirely within The Orchardist’s greenhouse, the tape is joyfully organic and fluid, somehow finding compromise between painstaking attention to detail and charismatic messiness. And though a few clicks led me to a website where I could learn all about where it all came from and how it was made, my love for the unknown – one that I’m sure I share with a lot of you – was initially what spurred me to listen, and I’m grateful that still survives in some form today.