(Inner Islands, 2015)
This is the first review I’ve written following the terror attacks in Beirut and Paris, and I think it’s a fitting one. I hope the impact will not be lessened by the passage of time – I’m writing this in November, you’re reading it in January – because if there is a correct moment to be introduced to Stag Hare, Tapestry specifically, it’s now. Think of it as a wonderful paean to humanity, and a peaceful eulogy to those who lost their lives in such a horrific fashion. Perhaps its tones can wash over the rest of us, especially those living in fear in Europe, Syria, Kenya, and wherever else violence thrives, and bring about moments of calm in the midst of chaos.
Tapestry is perfect for this. Not only is it stylistically relevant – its beautiful ambient tones are immediately disarming – but it’s also nearly infinite (well, four hours) and its sustaining presence is hard to resist. But the best part is that each track, “Tapestry 1” through “Tapestry 16,” has been commissioned by and was recorded under the direction of another individual. No track is less than fourteen minutes, and none is greater than seventeen. Think of it this way: you love people so much that you record fifteen minutes of music for each of them, to honor them and express your gratitude for their existence. Stag Hare, aka Salt Lake City’s Zara Asha Moonbeam Biggs-Garrick, has done just that. I can think of no greater gift than presenting sixteen of your closest friends with music inspired by them. It restores my faith in people a little bit – if they can do this rather than awful things, then we should be in a lot better shape.
The meditative guitar passages are spiritually cleansing, “a connecting network in the web of being,” and downright mind-expanding. It’s almost impossible to pick out moments; immersion is really the only method of exploration here. That said, I particularly got a bit misty on “Tapestry 3 (for Joelle Amethyst Premo Hannert)” and “Tapestry 5 (for Jude Angelini).” I’m a big fan of Braeyden Jae’s work, so the minor-key drone of “Tapestry 8 (for Braden McKenna)” was a nice surprise, with its lo-fi hiss underscoring maybe the saddest passage here. But of course, something like “Tapestry 14 (for Matt Nester)” sets everything back on its cosmic path once again, and reminds us that we’re all in it together. Tapestry serves almost like a collection of holy sacraments, with Stag Hare administering them, blessing each individual named and the rest of us listeners in turn.
This reminder of our place on earth, and in the universe, is important now more than ever. The love Biggs-Garrick is clearly exhibiting for people is palpable and overwhelming. It is unsurprising then that she is a mother, of “a beautiful little boy named Sebastian.” That mother’s love and care emanates outward through her music, and her dream of a peaceful place in which to raise him. There are so many people who won’t get that chance. Let’s hang on to each other as tightly as we can as long as we can, because sometimes that’s all we can do.
The 4xC60 cassette box set is limited to 50 copies through Inner Islands.
UPDATE 12-4-15: Fuck me, enough with the guns already.
RIYL: Super Minerals, Braeyden Jae, Ant’lrd