Aaron Martin

Chapel Floor

Instruments are like money: when you use, something inside you is purchased. And like money, music resounds for a long time as aftermath. However unlike money, music is priceless, and that’s apothesis of Aaron Martin’s creations wholly. On “Chapel Floor”, “Piece 5”, Martin meanders in an opening reverie of satisfying loop, a hotspot for connectivity with the listener who just lets his or her mind wander. “Autism”, consequently, vies for attention with a special gift, the harmonica-esque ransom a bill poster for the positive aspects of cello.

Dragging an F chord across a quandary jars normally, but in “Sugar And Dirt”, the third on Aaron Martin’s “Chapel Floor”, a half-radio broadcast, half-live performance set, it results in spellbinding synthesizer and cello. Specific tension is palpable like a knock on the door at midnight. Cello appears in largely all the tracks on this double-purpose LP, and is bowed professionally with great focus on harmonious playing. Martin is very good at resolution suspense, as shown on “Worried About The Fire” LP’s “Water Tongue” from 2010. He has matured his sound to a morose essay on “Chapel Floor”, painting shapes like the traditional stone floor of a chapel.

The Flamenco fist guitar medley of “Karl Rove” is increasingly pleasant, this time a C chord,  chromatically and moodily in major scale. Thick violin layers lateralise a mournful dream piece, deceptively simple and complex in counterpoint. Contrasting, the old world cello of “Piece 3” is hypnotic and mesmerisingly naive, a sea shanty never threatening to break the mast, only massaging it. Working well, it forms a great LP centrepiece that has until now been an exercise in tension and release. Change of pace at halfway paves a suitable distinction of Aaron’s art: he is at one alone, but he also thinks to involve the situation around him too.

Discord isn’t elemental on “Chapel Floor”. All the tracks deluge in a inviting display of musicianship that never forces the obtusely personal. Instead, focus is on melancholy emotion being emitted like a log fire over a chilly family. The finale radio track “Pepperbox” is a B D C B quartz quarter tone arpeggio on cello, shaking its contents like pepper sprinkling out on a Sunday roast. Staccato backing imbues a uneven foundation that has you wondering when the suspense will end, if ever. The cello then double-tracks itself, backing vocals in the mix piercing the veil of sentimentality with a feeling of the “now”.

The “now” then shifts to its live section almost imperceptibly, which shows Martin’s ample talents as a musician when the clock is ticking in real time. “Branch Wheel” is a debonair and deadly serious cello composition with urge to tackle today’s big questions: “When does the sadness end? When does it begin? When can I feel peace? And where do I fit in?” In today’s hyper speed, contemporary present, the retro-futurism of his cello usage is a clarion call to the golden age classical era. Aaron knows austerity, but he also paradoxically plays by his deviation in serious plains and thought perimeters. This tune says so much fast and gets you thinking about music’s power, and the ability Aaron has to interweave talent for a repetitive strain injured, quixotic mood.

“Lightning In Meadow Grass (live)” is inventive and exciting as an organ synth effort, and recalls Pauline Oliverios’ collaborations with Barn Owl in the Infinite Strings Ensemble. Less effective than the cello work of earlier, but the progression into ringing bells and whooping sound FX gives ideal companionship to what might sound dead wood as a cello only recording. The looping is narcotic and melancholic instantaneously, barreling away at the beer kegs. “Orchard (live)” takes up placement on acoustic guitar, featuring finger picking feeling like running through a meadow without care. The chanting vox recalls Matt Christensen of Zelienople as a timbral device, serving to permeate the atmospherics with a resonating comfort and catharsis.

“Le Bateau-Mouche (live)” once again introduces the cello, although here it sounds more plaintive, more Stars Of The Lid rather than improvised mulch. The violin delay increases the twofold electronic/natural duality of “Chapel Floor”. It is not an effect, but the playing becomes pizzicato-like in tonality. The mood is contemplative, minus showboating of a lease on freedom. Meanwhile “Trees Are Smoke (live)” revels in synthesizer sustain and odd scrapings of melodic cello. The humming nature is numbing but thankfully, as if it puts you in a trance of belonging.

“Chapel Floor”, all in all, is a loving showcase of Aaron Martin, the existence of another space, the fleeting wonder of wholesomeness personified, and long may it continue. For now, I have no other words but to say: buy this tape, it will satiate your hunger for good music!


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