The Green Kingdom: Egress
Nomadic Kids Republic

We've been major admirers of the work Michael Cottone has produced under The Green Kingdom name for a number of years, all the way back to 2007's self-titled collection for the SEM imprint. Five years on from that outing, Egress finds Cottone presenting the project in perhaps its most perfectly realized form to date. Everything's in balance here, from the songwriting to the arrangements, and the music exudes an organic serenity that's more than a little potent.

The style hasn't changed radically from before, as Cottone continues to traffic in a folk-ambient-electronic (folktronic if you prefer) style that merges natural sounds (acoustic and electric guitars, strings, piano, flute, thumb piano) and electronic textures into pastoral wonderlands that are sometimes autumnal in spirit (“Sept.”) but always transporting. At times, beats gently animate the material (“Woolgathering”) such that contemplation gives way to exploration, as if one's left off admiring the woodland scene to resume one's day-long hike through the countryside.

The tracks sometimes lean in the direction of a particular style or genre, as when a crunchy downtempo pulse lends the brooding “Butterstorm” a bit of a trip-hop feel and when “The Caves of Summerisle” offsets its ethereal tendencies with country-styled guitar picking. In those moments when a perfect balance between the acoustic and electronic is achieved (as during “Rusticlub” and “Sleep/Snow,” for example), Egress sounds as if Cottone's distilled Taylor Deupree's 12k aesthetic into a single, five-minute piece of music. In these cases, guitar shadings drift within dense pools of crackle and hiss in such a way that clock time starts to lose all meaning. It all comes together beautifully in the forty-five-minute recording's nine settings, leaving one to wonder how Cottone will be able to top it.

July-August 2012