The Green Kingdom: Incidental Music
One dictionary definition of “Incidental” characterizes it as something “happening in connection with or resulting from something more important; casual or fortuitous.” Applying such a definition to the title of Michael Cottone's latest The Green Kingdom collection would seem to suggest that there's something accidental about its music. And while admittedly there is something laid-back about the forty minutes of pastoral-folk material presented on Incidental Music, there's hardly anything unpolished and casual about Cottone's carefully crafted sound. Perhaps he chose the title in order to draw attention to the beauty of a natural world that we overlook and become blind to, simply because we're constantly surrounded by it.
At this stage, The Green Kingdom's sound is familiar, though no less welcome for being so. Using acoustic guitar as a fundamental sound source for the nine settings' melodies, chords, and percussive sounds and elaborating upon it with other acoustic instruments and vinyl samples, Cottone once again weaves his textures and melodic fragments into soothing moodscapes that evoke the warmth of a dew-covered summer morn, a quality reinforced by song titles like “Slow Bloom” and “Whispered Through Pines.” In a typical setting, the tiny patter of clicks and rustlings suggests miniature life forms immersed in their daily activities, while an acoustic guitar voices a bucolic melody or pattern, its crystalline sound accompanied by a kalimba's pluck or perhaps a wordless vocal murmur. In keeping with its title, “Flotation Theme” exudes a more contemplative drone style that evokes the near-stillness of a country pond on a sweltering Autumn afternoonIncidental Music is another satisfying addition to an ever-growing body of work that bears its creator's distinctive signature. While others adopt multiple personae and restlessly explore different genre styles, Cottone concentrates on one, seemingly intent on honing it to a state of perfection. Beautiful, transporting settings like “Green Theme” and “Whispered Through Pines” certainly suggest that it's a destination he's well on his way to reaching, if he hasn't reached it already.