01 February 2008

Cloud Music

I heard thunder yesterday. Under most circumstances, and certainly back in Idaho, Nevada, Utah, or Colorado, a passing late afternoon thunderstorm would not cause such excitement. In Chile's Central Cordillera, however, these events seem a rarity. From sometime around the end of November until May-ish the weather patterns are constant. Temperatures rise during the day, humidity drops severely (into the teens), the sun opens up and bears down. It's a little like north and central Mexico, a little like the Western US without the intensity of the sun. The weather stagnates.

The evening brings down-canyon winds that blow from the upper elevations of the Andes and this cools everything off. It's pleasant and it's good for sleeping but it doesn't change for months on end. So the sound of thunder surprised me and caused me to stop what I was doing, go outside, and search for signs of life. There were plenty. All over the foothills and high peaks. El Plomo was lost to the clouds. The espino trees of the foothills all turned a foreboding black. Change was in the air and it felt good. Hank and I ran around the house trying to get the best shots of a very fleeting moment.

And as soon as it started it was all over. Then it was time to play music! The first band that came to mind was the Kingsbury Manx because their albums come complete with the often larger than life cloud and tree and mountain paintings of Scott Myers who also plays bass and keyboards in the band.

Their second album, Let You Down, is a great late afternoon soundtrack. Pastoral harmonies; strumming, shimmering guitars; mildly hypnotic melodies; and light as air sonic textures. What more could you ask for? The distant sound of thunder, perhaps?

Patterns Shape The Mile.mp3
My Shaky Hand.mp3 From the Japanese Bonus Tracks Version

Then I remembered what could be the best and most appropriate soundtrack to a summer thunderhead, Andrew Bird's Weather Systems EP.

At only thirty-four minutes it passes almost as quickly as a thunderstorm and it's at least as pretty. The layering and looping of his violin mirrors the climbing levels of the cumulus clouds; the lyrical and sometimes somber moodiness imitates the oncoming mass of electricity, power, and breathtaking elegance. Everything about this short album is perfectly suited for a reflective late afternoon climatic change. I only wish it, like the clouds themselves, would have lasted a little longer.

Weather Systems.mp3
Don't Be Scared.mp3

You like? You buy. Support the troops!
The Kingsbury Manx at Amazon and Insound
Andrew Bird at Amazon and Insound

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