Ned Milligan – Enter Outside

Mixing improvisation with artistic predetermination, Enter Outside’s music has been designed for the outdoors. Chimes and cassette tape are relatively recent additions to Ned Milligan’s calming compositions, but on this EP, Milligan venture into new territory and extends his musical scope by incorporating a singing drum. The title can be interpreted multiple ways – as a directive, a suggestion, or an invitation. The suggestion aspect fits well with the record’s spontaneity, welcoming nature, and freedom, which can be found in improvisation. Pre-composition is the polar opposite of improvisation, and it’s more susceptible to narrowing the music; it doesn’t have the flexibility of improvisation. Sometimes, the black stave lines can morph and twist into the vertical steel bars of a prison cell. In this EP, improvisation and pre-composition are blended together, restriction meeting expansion. However, the inclusion of a singing bowl leaves the door open for a more inviting kind of music.

Sounds from the outside fill up and expand the music, which opens with the patter of steady rain. The sky is pregnant, and its close-range thunder acts as a contrast to the soft, clinking chime-kisses, which overlap and crossover at differing intervals. The thunder doesn’t disrupt, though. It’s an essential part of nature and it’s invited to become a vital element in the overall sound design, uniting with the cleansing, open sound of chimes and serving the exact same purpose as the chimes in clearing the air, albeit in a physical rather than a musical capacity.

The outside environment isn’t a mere plot point for the music to latch onto – it’s an essential part of the experience. You could argue that the music is already outside, and not on the cusp of entering the outdoors, as most of the EP was recorded on a rural porch in Maine. Milligan’s additional processing took place post-recording, but rural stillness, and an afternoon washed in rain, permeates the music. The outdoor environment seeps in and absorbs everything else, until the music becomes a living, breathing thing. Milligan’s photograph gradually becomes apparent, the edges and corners becoming complete. You become fully absorbed in the outdoor environment, transported to a porch in New England. The door is open.

Available through the Stashed Goods website here

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