Consider taking a vacation. Consider the tropics, or maybe even Africa; there's a place for everyone, and everyone has their place. The point is, you need to get out of town and you need a break from your cluttered life. Simplicity is key. But look, you need to relax and there's nothing like a lush, green jungle with pristine white sandy beaches and glistening turquoise water to get your mind off of your hectic schedule. If you want a good soundtrack for your journey, consider Jewelled Antler Collective honcho Glenn Donaldson's solo project, The Birdtree. It's as laid back as your vacation should be. But please, keep a journal while you're gone. It will help you remember these times when everything gets crazy again.
Day One. Woke up early to watch the sunrise. You've never seen a real dawn until you've seen it from Indonesia. Took your advice and brought along "Orchards & Caravans." I'm loving it. The sunrise was gorgeous. I played "Pillar of Clouds" and a huge white crane flew overhead. Reverbed guitars on the song really created a nice atmosphere for breakfast. I thoroughly enjoyed the Indian accents on the song; made me want curry. Anyway, it was a perfect morning full of juicy mangoes and crisp rays of sun. I have a massage in an hour so I'll end this for today.
Day Two. Decided to stay in most of the day. I'm feeling lonely today and wish I had a wife or girlfriend I could have brought with me. It's okay, though, since I had time to think about things. It was cathartic in a very subtle, quiet way. "Black Rainbows, Parts 1 & 2" helped ease any fears I had. It was amazing. The quiet vocals on the track seemed almost subliminal; I honestly thought he was reading my thoughts. Nice job on the feedback, too. That helped clear my head enough to purge some demons. Since I am on vacation, I did opt for a stroll through this wonderful little path they have through a small section of jungle near the resort. "Scorpions & Lions" is a good summation. It was pleasant and simple; I walked leisurely and remembered to stop and smell the wet leaves. There was no fear or anything, even though I know there were some deadly animals close by. Maybe I should move here.
Day Three. I woke up late and missed a yoga class I had scheduled. D'oh! Oh well, I needed the sleep. I was having this really surreal dream last night that kept me up for at least two hours. I think it was prompted by listening to "The Bluish Vapor of Tall Eucalyptus Trees" right before I fell asleep. That track is haunting! It kept invoking all these images of ghosts and spirits. Though they weren't necessarily bad ones, it still freaked me out. I took a long bath this morning while listening to "White Sundials Faced the Sun" and tried to relax. It worked. Donaldson's voice on that song has a therapeutic quality to it. It was actually a bit New-Age-y, but not in a hokey, Yanni-type way. I really love how he uses ambient sounds and feedback to give his songs an organic feel to them. I hear a gong-like sound that gives it a ritualistic undertone as well. It's really brilliant. I'm listening to "Sleep Under a Tree" right now and it's making me want to do just that. Laying in piles of wet leaves with the smell of fresh cut bananas permeating the air. Delightful!
Day Four. After today, it's back home to Chicago. This has been an excellent experience. I went to this small gathering last night of poets and intellectuals. We discussed the merits of postmodern theories of culture, and I shared my discovery of this album with a beat poet from Greenwich Village. (I thought the beret thing was over. I guess not.) Anyway, we played "Red Midnight Raven" to the crowd and it stopped many conversations. People really dug the jangly percussion and said it was reminiscent of Nick Drake. After I got home, I laid in bed and thumbed through some material I was given while listening to the keyboard-laden "Everyone Of Us a New Leaf." The song is a good one for thinking about things that have recently happened. Its title implies its sound; it's very hopeful.
Day Five. On my way to the airport, I've got "Mary Ann" on repeat on headphones. I can't quite make out the words on this dreamy song, but I hear him saying "10,000 miles away from Mary Ann..." more than once. This song just makes me feel so far from home and away from everyone and everything I know. It's sad but comforting at the same time. It's a good song to bring my senses down from the heightened state they've been in this week. It's beautiful and familiar; I am ready to go home.
It's hard to believe this is the same Glenn Donaldson from Thuja and Mirza. I would have never thought he could write such beautiful pop songs. Thankfully, they're tinged with his sense of ambience and the organic sounds which make his other projects so appealing. I feel like I'm getting a real glimpse of what he's capable of on this record, and would recommend it to anyone who needs some time away from their personal chaos. Take a trip; get away; let go: that's the important part, but don't ever forget to take along a soundtrack. It will make the experience much more enjoyable. 8/10 -- Brad Rose (25 May, 2005)