If one is searching for a beacon of light in Lost Tribe Sound’s undeniably dark roster of releases this year, look no further. The Green Kingdom’s new full-length album ’The North Wind and the Sun’ is like a cool breeze on a heated summer day. Perhaps music this gentle feels out of place, even glutinous, given the currently harsh climate of the world, yet the truth may be that we need it now more than ever. Music like this offers an opportunity to pause, to regain our center, to shift focus towards bettering our surroundings versus cursing them.
With over a decade of creating albums of the dusted-down ambient electronic variety, The Green Kingdom has finely honed his abilities to express these concepts of transformation in a non-verbal way, utilizing a deft blend of majestic post-rock style guitar, rolling bass and an unusual palette of acoustic instrumentation weaving them into a wide variety of electronic gear and synths. On a mission to find the right dose of aural sanity, Michigan native, Michael Cottone (aka The Green Kingdom) has experimented with a wide variety of electronic styles from dub to drone, yet his strongest efforts were perhaps born of his electro-acoustic works. His greatest strengths center around his ability to write some of the most ear pleasing melodies imaginable.
Of course, here at headquarters we pondered what would happen if Cottone abandoned the majority of his electronic equipment and limited his arsenal to nearly all acoustic instrumentation? It’s a similar question to the one we proposed to Cock & Swan back in the day, with their exceptional album ‘Stash’. Asking Cottone kindly, he obliged. After a number of months of trial and error TGK delivered us this experiment, titled 'The North Wind and The Sun.' We were floored, not only is the music still undeniably that of The Green Kingdom, it seems to exude a new sense of wonder and confidence.
'The North Wind and the Sun' is the aural equivalent of the fondest, hazy memories gleamed from childhood days past. The melodies are playful and comforting like womb-filtered lullabies. While this new delivery may shock some familiar with TGK’s previous outings, Cottone seems quite comfortable with this new primarily acoustic set of sounds, inventing his own heart-warming brand of Americana.
That said, the music pays respects to its roots, no doubt recalling the more pastoral, primitive works of William Ryan Fritch, Western Skies Motel and John Fahey, the woozy mechanically-inclined folk of Boards of Canada or Part Timer, the bright, sincere melodies of Amiina or mbira virtuoso Richard Crandell. Throughout the thirteen song album, 'The North Wind and the Sun,' The Green Kingdom gives us a very intimate look behind the curtain, one brimming with personality, a tender collection of homespun reveries one can tell has been building in Cottone’s mind for years. This is a rare and sublime new direction for TGK, one we hope he continues to develop upon for years to come.