Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit


Dragon Turtle – Almanac
15 December 2009, 07:59 Written by Matt Poacher
dragonturtleSo as the year comes to a close, we all need a rest, right? We’re punch drunk from over-listening, saturated with music. So what we really need at this stage is an indulgent ramshackle jalopy of an album from a Brooklyn/Pennsylvania two-piece, who have in the past described themselves as “Ambient-Winter-Calypso-Space-Folk”. Well, as it happens, yes we do. I give you: Dragon Turtle.The duo of Brian Lightbody and Tom Asselin released ‘Spill Out the Night’ earlier this year, their contribution to a split 12” with Goodnight Stars Goodnight Air. That track was an 18-minute epic of space-folk whooze that was for 15 minutes of its length a beatless drug haze. That the last section reached a canter was evidence that the band were about more than fuzzy catatonia. Almanac is the summation of this. Over its nine tracks, the album moves from these studied calm states to a near early-Mercury Rev feral fever pitch. It doesn’t necessarily always hold together but it’s coherent enough for that not to matter.There’s nothing here to match the vastness of ‘Spill Out The Night’ but the two longer tracks ”“ the opener ‘Causality’ and the 11-minute ‘Hourglass’ ”“ have similar epic intentions. The ambient-folk tag is probably most apt for these two tracks as they share simple acoustic chord patterns and both have an air of hovering bucolic bliss. Both tracks have a delicate yet frayed beauty about them as well. Yet buried in this bliss and on the tracks between these two songs there is a whole otherness present ”“ a kind of deconstructive urge towards the foundations of folk music. Which is where duos debt to Robert Smithson is probably most apparent.One reading of Smithson’s preoccupations might suggest that he was concerned with place and disappearance. One of his most famous pieces, Spiral Jetty, was a future ruin, a 1500-foot long sculpture of mud and basalt that curled into the Great Salk Lake in Utah like a huge trilobite fossil. When Smithson built the piece the lake was at low ebb because of drought so as the lake regained depth the jetty was buried, visible only from the air. It was an art installation only in as much as it existed as a rumour, and its power was precisely spectral ”“ in a state of there and not there all at once. The Dragon Turtle track, ‘Island of Broken Glass’, which is the closest thing you might find to a single on Almanac, takes this one step further as its based on a Smithson project that never made it into existence. The idea was to create an island of glass in the Georgia Strait but the project never moved beyond a crude map ”“ a doubling of the spectral, then. Also, the cover of Almanac has a similar there/not there quality about it, as the photo captures a double helix of books being burned ”“ the photograph merely capturing a process. And if it’s not pushing a point too far, that idea works as an adequate way of describing the bands overall sound ”“ what you have with Almanac is akin to an ear in the studio, these are ideas and systems in motion.All of this wouldn’t count for shit if the processes weren’t worth capturing though, of course. The truth is that Dragon Turtle are more than worth tracking down ”“ the sweep of the album as a whole is quite something. And as ‘Burn the Leaves’ (there we go again) fades into the kind of febrile haze Jason Pierce used to emanate (before he thought about it too hard), you’re left with the impression of a band on its way to something special.RECOMMENDED

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