Tanner Garza - Earthtones [Bookend Recordings - 2012]Tanner Garza is a prolific ambient, drone & noise artist. Actually one of his earliest releases from 2012, "Earthtones" is self-described as an "earth based drone music album". The disclaimer skirts dangerously near cliche, stating "each track is named after a different mythological creature or spirit". Luckily, the trite new age-ism suggested by this description is nowhere to be found in the music.
The mood of the album is ancient, reverent and mysterious, full of liquid, meandering tonalities that suggest chord structures, but never become bound to them. There is a pleasurable, peaceful quality to the oozing, nebulous vibrations, yet wholly without resorting to over-familiar, syrupy consonance or flute playing to spoonfeed the listener relaxation. The nectar thick drones are sufficient to carry the pieces alone in their divine simplicity, lulling any environment in which they are playing into a slowed, soporific state.
Somehow this album reminds me strongly of nature, primarily the forest, without providing explicit sonic references to it. Perhaps it is that the sound's soft and gentle diffusion, or that it seems to be glowing with sunlight warmth. The only actual 'nature sounds' present on the album are in the 2nd piece, "Adze", and couldn't be more perfectly matched to the overtone rich note that shimmers beneath them, a sound I might compare to the sound of a Tuvan throat singer.
The muted white hues in the first piece "Bigfoot: A Never-Ending Prelude", longest on the album at 16 minutes, recall the sophisticated, anesthetized and detached ambient creations of the 12k label. Quite likely, a synthesizer is the original source of these tones, but there are enough organic undulations to the sound that it feels nothing like the sequenced ambient music of the 80's. It's closer to Radiohead's "Treefingers", a glimpse of a slow motion universe.
I am utterly entranced by this 'earth based drone music' album. I have listened to it twice back to back before, and very likely will again. The mood conjured by this disk is deep and full of possibilities. Highly recommended, especially to fans of fellow nature worshiping ambient musicians such as Aglaia or Steve Roach, who both generally employ a denser approach to soundscaping, but capture a similar spiritual ecstacy.( sadly Earthtones is long out of print in it's physical form, but it can be heard/downloaded here)Josh Landry