As I spend a significant part of my lifetime writing, it should go without saying that I really pay attention to the way people name their projects, albums, tracks, etc. Add to that the fact that a bad band name, album title, or cover artwork can sometimes seriously spoil my listening experience, especially when we’re talking about minimal genres where the importance of such things is magnified by incredible margins. Thankfully, Flaming Pines isn’t an imprint that seems to have issues with this; on the contrary, the music they publish always seems to be noticeably personal or special in some form. In fact, I slightly envy label founder and curator Kate Carr for her intuition, for her roster of artists hasn’t yet let her (or us) down so far.
The latest Flaming Pines release that I have had the chance to hear is Drawing Virtual Gardens’ The Osmotic Memory of J. J. Bhagee, and as you can read yourself, it’s a very visual collection of music even without hearing a second of it.
However, when you do finally take a moment to listen to the album, the title—which American-born yet Brussels-based artist David Gutman picked for his project—pretty much describes the music within all too well. The Osmotic Memory of J. J. Bhagee perfectly fits where Flaming Pines artists shine the brightest; they indulge your most introverted desires for lush drone ambient music while gently intertwining them with detailed layers of peculiar field recordings. The album is extremely subtle and the pieces undergo many transformations throughout its duration. It took me a while to figure out what Gutman was going for with this release and to feel at home with his creations.
Even if the guitar is Gutman’s main instrument, there’s no dominating sound source to be found here. The strings might be leading the parade but in a very non-intrusive way. Sooner or later, you’ll probably stop thinking about what or how those particular sounds were made, and you’ll only be able to let the music completely sink in. That comfort level is also achieved through the organic production of the record. Sound-wise, it’s not afraid to be raw and aggressive when necessary (‘Corpus Membrane Reverb’ and its thick and low guitar textures), clean and delicate (‘Stealing a Sound out of the Tropic’), or soaked in warm tape hiss (‘Tatapatata’).
The Osmotic Memory of J. J. Bhagee carries a perfect vibe—one that’s very close to what I’ve already learned to expect from its label. I hope this collaboration will be sustained or perhaps even expanded because I’d be glad to see Gutman collaborating with somebody else from the Flaming Pines roster.
My only complaint would be—please, people—use harder paper and better typography for your covers; such great music deserves it.
01) Stealing a Sound out of the Tropic
02) Osmotic Memories
03) Corpus Membrane Reverb
05) A Kind of Swirl in Amsterdam