Weather Duo

Music I’m Buying: From Field to Platter by Weather Duo

Music I’m Buying is a series dedicated to reviewing albums that are not sent gratis to I Care if You Listen and that might be somewhat under the radar. To read more about why I felt it necessary to do this, please see my original post in the series. This particular CD I found via Bandcamp’s Discover service.

Weather Duo is a young group based in the unlikely city of Madison, WI with unassuming resumes and a CD produced by an obscure label. This  affected how I began this review, at least at first. I was listening for faults, even though that was not my conscious intention. Perceived intonation and recording problems were my focus, and the first line of that review would have been some B.S. about a young group that shows “promise.”

Here’s the glaring problem with that review: I really, really enjoy this album. I’ve listened to it many times, often delaying writing anything under the guise of “getting a better feel for for it.” From Field to Platter is not without its faults, but they don’t bother me much. If anything, this album has helped solidify my opinion that good music is not that with the fewest faults (to err is human), but that which makes you not care about them (to forgive, divine).

Weather Duo

Weather Duo

The music for this album was written collaboratively by Pat Reinholz (cello/electronics) and Ben Willis (bass/electronics), and seems to revolve around three influences: minimalist, folk, and electronic music. It is minimalist in its use of both drones and repetitive, quasi-tonal patterns. It is folk in its evocation of the music of the British Isles, even if it has been handed down through Appalachia, and it is electronic in its willingness to explore sound for its own sake. At times, this three-fold blend is present within a single track, such as “falling asleep to the feedback,” while at other times these ideas are distinct from one another.

Two of the strongest tracks are those that open and close the album, “helicopters” and “decaDodeca – lanterns,” respectively. The first of these opens with a unison between the two performers, and that initial tone remains constant as both performers explore the frequencies that surround it. This exploration only lasts a couple minutes before it is frenetically rejected, giving way to a rhythmic groove and improvisational melodic writing. The musical effect is stunning, and it is a fantastic piece to open the CD.

The last piece, “decaDodeca – lanterns,” opens with an minimalist-inspired hoquet that diminishes as a lyrical melody emerges, accompanied by some subtle electronics. Several minutes into the track, a slow chorale begins, which includes the use of vocalizations. Just as the first piece sets the tone for the record by capturing the listener’s attention and giving hints of what is to come, this chorale seems a nice summation. It is the perfect conclusion to what has been an interesting journey.

My primary criticism of From Field to Platter is that this is a somewhat disjunct album. The more experimental tracks, while good, don’t seem to quite fit into the album. I think their overall placement within the cd is excellent,  but it remains nonetheless jarring to move from the aptly titled track “he crawls from the speakers,” to “decaDodeca – lanterns.” If I may pull the young card out (despite my earlier protests), I think this is a duo still finding its voice. Still, these “searchings,” as I am so arrogantly calling them, are eminently enjoyable, and I can only hope they are given the support to keep making fantastic albums. That, of course, requires you to buy the cd, which you should.

Weather Duo, From Field to Platter (Mine All Mine Records, 2012). CDs available from Mine All Mine and downloads available from Bandcamp.

R. Andrew Lee is an avid performer of minimalist and postminimalist piano music and records for Irritable Hedgehog Music. Follow him on twitter: @andyleedma.