Review: Sidon Coleman – The Box (self-released, Oct 5)

If you’re anything like me (not that I advocate for that), when you stumble across an unknown artist and read an introduction like Sidon Coleman’s to The Box—“This is my first album so I don’t have proper recording equipment and I really just made this for fun because I really like noises and stuff so I want to push the boundaries of what music can be”—you’re immediately hopeful for fresh, spontaneous artistry unhindered by technique or convention with the boundless joyful spirit of an all-inclusive love for sound. Though it certainly has no obligation to do so, this debut from the obscure Louisiana musician gleefully surpasses those high expectations. The Box is both outsider multi-instrumentalist sketchbook and carefully crafted composition, with Coleman building intricate, colorful, abstract webs of primitive drum noodling, absentminded guitar-practice improvisations, pocket electronics, and dust-smudged field recordings on each of the twelve vignette-tracks. The introductory “The Box Has Been Opened” is one of the best cuts, encapsulating the unpredictable toy-chest dreamscape that forms the album’s central essence in its loose, sprawling sound-space of ambient bustle and musical castoffs. Coleman’s collage is already well beyond what most artists’ would be on their first release, but there’s no shortage of experimentation here either; for example, “Forest of Dreams / sounDwaveS” is a reach toward something gentler and more narrative, while “In the Mind” approaches the abrasive aesthetics of tabletop noise. Rounded off by the humble, unassuming beauty of “Final Moments” and “Short Story: Syd / Closed,” this well-hidden gem is nothing short of unforgettable.