Review: Diane – The River by the Tree (Jungle Gym, Feb 8)

I’ll never get tired of artists making music associated with green. At its heart, it’s a color that we equate to nature, environments, the living world around us, a source of sound and energy that will never be fully explored. The River by the Tree is an album that’s based heavily in the natural world, from its vibrant, mossy cover to the birdsong and flowing water that frequently emerge in its palette of sounds, but it also keeps itself at a respectful, reverent distance, examining a lush landscape through a lens of careful processing. The shimmering drones that newcomer project Diane crafts on this tape encase their organic sources much like the reflective surface of the water in the cover photo, initially obscuring with a protective shell of effects and alterations before the unmanipulated elements appear. Each of the three tracks is given plenty of time to breathe and expand naturally, especially the concluding “September,” whose quiet, meditative ambience allows soft guitar, dove calls, and bubbling brooks to slowly unfurl as the piece progresses. I can see The River by the Tree functioning both as a reminder of nature when it is far away and as a subtle augmentation when that rich green world is right there in front of you.

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