1 Mile North - "East Coast Harbor" (Conduction. Convection. Radiation.)
The third of The Music Fellowship’s triptych releases collects a triad of artists who live in dream states, musicians whose work finds its context in subconscious wanderings, the clouds of a sleepy stupor, and the heightened sensitivity of highly emotional conditions. Each gesture is an important one, stasis as powerful as movement. Such sentiment-laden territory is tricky, there’s little room for error between the suitably moving and the superfluously histrionic. The artists on Conduction. Convection. Radiation. are no strangers to the distinction, it’s one they most likely battle with on a daily basis, each in their own manner, and with different results.
1 Mile North, the duo of Jon Hills and Mark Bajuk, are Conduction. Convection. Radiation.’s most conventional third. Their duets for guitar and synthesizer sometimes swim dangerously close to the waters of languid New Age music, with ambient synth blankets and the sparse, weighted melodies that slowly glide above. There’s an undeniable dramatic heft to the duo’s three tracks, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been copiously explored on albums and film soundtracks by many others before them, with equally evocative results. By the end of “Silence the Deaf,” rather than a feeling of sublimity, 1 Mile North have imbued the beginning of Conduction. Convection. Radiation. with a melodramatic aura that makes few changes to a blueprint followed many times before.
Tarentel’s Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is Colophon. His three contributions to the triptych simmer slowly, resonating with a depth that belies his simple means. “Watching Josi Die” uses stark piano, tangled in a web of hushed processed electronics, as does Colophon’s closer, “Vicodin Dream/Josi’s Last Stand.” “Texas Heat,” the interloper between the two, is a more classic drone, and while it is without the fragility that characterizes Cantu-Ledesma’s bookends, the track slowly ripples in its own beautiful manner. They’re surely not effortless, but Cantu-Ledesma isn’t overly imposing in his approach, and he allows the music to breathe on its own rather than force life into it.
The Wind-Up Bird, otherwise known as Joe Grimm (and occasionally Jeff Smith), opts for an elegant beauty with a series of instrumental duets. “Voice & Sine Wave” becomes a bit too expertly pockmarked for its own glitchy good, but Grimm’s remaining three contributions, which feature less blatantly digital manipulation, are the disc’s finest moments. “Voice & Bells” gently places bell tones over a thin layer of delayed voice, while “Violin & Trumpet” features a relatively lavish, if perhaps romantic, interplay that’s the album’s most outright traditional act. It’s this tie-in to the organic world that makes Grimm’s powerbook manipulations the most successful third of Conduction. Convection. Radiation., closing the album with dignity and grace.