Black Coral Sprig
America: land of the free and home of the brave. Below the star spangled banner, Black Coral Sprig rests in the Atlantic, submerged underneath the failed weight of hope and expectation. Ocean deep, the notes point to a lost way of life, not necessarily a crisis of national identity but a warning against the nation’s current trend and the safeguarding of her sung freedoms.
America’s anthems are usually loud thumpers, but Tulsa’s Dylan Aycock (Talk West) proves that there is just as much power and potential in the quieter anthem, one that speaks of peace and not of decadence. It is disconnected with the very country and her musical soul. The way the cello sways is at once fascinating and mystical. Light pours into the water, white lines that distort the shallow bed and its slinky currents. These currents rock and gently push the notes against the shore, tumbling onto the coastline like washed up seaweed. The loops shine with soft sun-glare, every repetition like the gravitational motion of the waves coming and going. The mystery of the deep, of life and its rocky journey, rises to the forefront of the mind calmly, thoughts to ponder, summoned by the cello and her throaty tone, lying just underneath the surface of the music. You can almost reach out and grasp this mystery, but it constantly evades the palm of the hand.
Black Coral Sprig is slow to reveal its beauty, almost as if it really did need unearthing. Once it is held, though, it never fades. The deep mystery might be the calm, the serenity, that we all search for, particularly when blinded by the chaos of bright lights, Hollywood signs, the pressures of society, acceptance and social behaviour. Peace gleams in the back of a desperate mind, but music such as this reminds us that peace is something that can be obtained; you just need to take the back routes.
Nervous dispositions come to the surface with ‘Nervous Man’, with tightly strung strings that already feel the weight of teenage pressure, and the staccato stabs, jolting irregularly, don’t help to ease the tension. In a world where city banks collapse, it should come as no surprise to find the all too common nervous breakdown hidden in the dusty rubble of a Wall Street crash.
There is always a chance to start over, however. A serene atmosphere comes down, built on the foundations of a clean electric guitar, sprinkling a fountain of looped melodies. The light slides and major finger plucked sequences of ‘Set Adrift’ are lovely loops, with a bright, crystal clear tone and a descending melody. Splashes of apricot sunset can be viewed at the top of the apartment gardens, saying goodbye to the culture of narcissism.
‘Willow and the Dogwood’ continues calmly, and the casual, relaxed and beautiful melodies enjoy the fullness of health. They are layered with the lightest of static which, perhaps, represents something – some underlying trouble – of the nation’s past, but one that is now ancient history. Soaked in wet reverb, tiny melodic lines emerge beside their predecessors, creating a lovely shimmering effect like ripples on a tranquil lake.
The valentine of the music is ‘Solitary Blossoms’, opening with a beautifully deep progression that rests peacefully on its resolution. Riding on a slightly warbling current, the piano rests beside the crackles and pops of a campfire, crinkling the music at the edges and giving the sound a lovely, fragile center amid the soft sadness of lost romance.
Underneath the starlight, we pick up the evening sound of crickets and the panorama of the city lights bask in the dying glow of the evening. It is a rocky road, but it is importantly in love with the nation and its surroundings. America itself can often be chaotic, despite its stunning natural landscapes, with the self-absorption of western society and the rush hour radio pollution, the haze of 24/7 news coverage and an overly sensational media, but it is still home. The thunderous end thoroughly destroys problems with its cavernous reverb. Talk West takes the country back to its roots, and guides us through the modern day calmly.