The second release from our very own Crawford Philleo’s Planted Tapes, Canopy/Mardotsha presents two disparate sides of music; one that glows warm with childhood memories of favourite pastimes and another that seems to represent the here and now – a more abstract and disjointed piece that flits between beautifully played nylon guitar and sad drone swells.
Side A’s ‘Canyon’ emerges out of a rain cloud to idle by on a gentle organic string hum that evokes well the canyons and streams that surround Lake Mary, the remote area of Utah that gives Chaz Prymek’s project its name. Prymek evidently has fond memories of Big Cottonwood Canyon, the diverse and dramatic section of the Wasatch Mountains in which he camped and hiked as a youngster. ‘Canopy’ meanders with increasing ease, hands clasped behind its back (knuckles freshly cracked), admiring the views and occasionally singing to itself as cold water can be heard gurgling over rocks in the distance. After the initial cobwebs are blown away the sound is clean, fresh and carefree – one can almost feel the cool mountain air surging in the lungs and smell the sharp scent of pine on the breeze.
It is easy to see ‘Mardotsha’ as the flipside to ‘Canopy’ in more than just physical form. No small amount of concentration is required, especially when Prymek is overcome by drones that swell like tears in his eyes and he has to up ante in order to keep them from spilling out. He’s certainly a skilled player and, despite the crackle of vinyl that runs throughout (and long after the music ends), there’s no doubt that what he’s doing is taking place in the present as opposed to the hazy memory represented by ‘Canopy’. It may be that he’s using the guitar in an attempt to reconnect with the space and innocence he enjoyed in the mountains and the absence of any sound other than that emanating warmly from his guitar does suggest Lake Mary is a long way away. Instead you think of a room and dust specks in light shafts, with Prymek sat on the bed alone trying hard to hear the water and smell the trees. As the photograph on the cassette’s cover suggests Canopy/Mardotsha represents a battle against the fade, where the big skies of childhood dim and crumple to leave us with ourselves, alone.