Review: Plants – Tapes 2014-2015 (Hemlock Garden, Jan 11)

The nearly two hours of music collected on Tapes 2014-2015, like the digital release’s black-and-white cover scan of a time-weathered medievalesque tapestry, is deeply artifactual. Like finding old, unfamiliar words carved on the underside of a massive boulder that haven’t seen the sky for centuries or stumbling over mossy old gravestones with long-obscured engravings strewn throughout the drooping, darkly verdant forest, each track—each soft, seraphic stream of faintly ritualistic cavern-drone steeped in sunlight—is a discovery. The dusty and delicate “From the Sky” is a sublime ode to the forgotten, both intimate and widely historical, its languid, interweaving currents of meditative vocalization, ephemeral rustle, and subterranean serenity evoking the sound of spirit song heard from just beyond the veil. Some of the pieces are moodier and more nocturnal, while others (particularly several segments of the aptly-titled “Sun”) are as pure and golden as the original “leak in the floorboards of heaven,” Folke Rabe’s eternal “What??”; but all are enrapturingly beautiful in their own ways, which is probably a good thing considering the compilation is so long (despite not really feeling like it). Music to slowly sink into.