Ned Milligan now presents his new album, Nature Always Needs Improving, building on the momentum generated by his admired third LP, Continental Burns. Echoing that album’s mode and structure, NANI offers a handful of tender, minimalist pieces before giving way to a spectral side-length conclusion. The deep intimacy of the album is enhanced by its process—primarily recorded outdoors on porches or in yards—and by the unpredictable interaction of incidental sounds with traditionally musical sound sources, especially resonant chimes.
The title of the album—a phrase originally found in a decades-old beauty ad—is presented as a statement but taken by Milligan with a healthy amount of skepticism. Musically, the idea is further considered in the contrast of untreated, in-situ recordings of chimes and kalimba with more heavily processed pieces comprised of interwoven overtones. At nearly twenty minutes long, “Sternal Sky,” the album’s finale, appropriately synthesizes what has come before in a gauzy, homespun glow.
Nature Always Needs Improving is a refinement of some ideas and an exploration of others. Inspired by artists like Federico Durand, Chihei Hatakeyama, and Philip Corner, it was equally influenced by rural excursions, house sounds, and afternoons spent with dogs. Mastered by Taylor Deupree. Limited to 100 LPs, comes with a two-sided insert and download code. Happily presented as a co-release with Gertrude Tapes.