I have been thrown off by a nearly overwhelming level of excitement at the upcoming start to the Philadelphia Flyers season, as I keep getting lost in daydreams about the love of my life, Shayne Ghostbear Gostisbehere. To break these reveries, I decided to dig into the back catalogue of Heavy Mess; this post is a record of that exploration, as I had to share/hype a favorite from the research. Teasips' Proxemic Realms, released as a limited edition cassette in June of this year, has been a revelation, a work of lowercase sound that blurs the lines between ambient, field recording and New Age to wonderful effect. For those who don't know, Teasips is also known as Angela Wilson, who is one-half of LA-based Electric Sound Bath. As far as I can tell, this is Wilson's first solo release; this album should convince any and all labels to change this fact and release more Teasips music (hint hint).
Like Heavy Mess label boss Brayden's recent work as softest, Proxemic Realms undermines categorical distinctions, drifting in a liminal sonic space. As the album title suggests, this music is an exploration of the impact that that uncertain hybrid space has on us. For those that don't know (ME), proxemics is "the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behavior, communication, and social interaction." What especially endeared this work to me was Wilson's statement of intent, which centers on a specific effect: "This was a musical/non verbal study in the use of space, and how various differences in that use can us feel at ease, or anxious." I'm not sure I can imagine a better summary of our own purposes here at Pound for Pound. Like, Teasips gets us my friends, she really get us!
What we get in return is six tracks that layer drones, oscillations, pan flute and nature field recordings to create both expansive spaces that let you breathe and compressed ones that subtly unnerve you, sometimes within the same song. The first four songs are specific units of length, which are progressively halved, perhaps laying out the dimensions of an imagined space. The shrinking measurements coincide with the recession of calm, as the sounds of nature and the flute fade into background as the LP progresses; they are overtaken by drone rumbles, destabilized by doppler synths. Opener "12'" sounds like pure field recording, as if one is listening to the ocean at night from inside, with the muffled sounds of wave white noise and crickets reaching your sheltered ears. It is followed by "4'," which features Wilson's lovely pan flute communing with those nature sounds. The wafts of breathy flute notes mix nicely with the wind, melding two New Ages tropes to put the listener at ease.
It's the middle section of the album, "2'" and "12"," where this breathy ambience and bucolic nature are overtaken and one feels ill at ease. "2'" is perhaps the most unsettling. It begins with the sounds of a woodland alive with insects singing and a gentle rustling, but soon one detects the sound of a distant siren, alerting you that this is not a woody eden after all. Soon, a dark, rumbling drone emerges out of the chirps and static that feels like anxiety itself crawling up from the ground into your feet, up your spine, right into your brain. Teasips never rushes it, never goes for the cheap horror, but rather lets things slowly, creepily unfold over 8 minutes until you are just begging for a g-ddamn flute. That flute does come in on "12"," but it too is no match for earthly grumbles and shifts that unsettle one's footing.
Here's the part where I urge you to buy this album, as it is the only way to ensure that we continue to study and build new sonic spaces. Head to the Heavy Mess Bandcamp store, where you can still buy Proxemic Realms on cassette (+free digital download) for $7. Just an FYI, these are limited editions, just noticed that one of the early Heavy Mess releases has already sold out. You can also get it as a digital album in the format of your choice for $5. Like I keep saying, there can never be enough labels exploring the sonic edges and buying this music is the only way to assure ourselves that we will get more of it. Once you have done that, check out the Heavy Mess main page for more info on the label and their soundcloud for more music samples. For the social media kids, link up with braeyden and the label on Twitter and Instagram. For more Teasips, check out the project's soundcloud, which features a good amount of unreleased material. For those who want to get a jump on this site, check out the work of Electric Sound Bath, her meditative duo project with Brian Griffith. I anticipate that this won't be the last you hear of Wilson around these parts.