Tabs Out | Flower Room – What’s Cooking in Brunswick, Maine?

Flower Room – What’s Cooking in Brunswick, Maine?

1.29.19 by Ryan Masteller

I’m a Pennsylvania transplant living in Florida, and I gotta be honest with you – Maine is one of the most gorgeous places in the world. My friends who’ve lived there won’t tell you that – they’ve all drifted to other parts of the country, turning their backs on the rural environments of their youths, decrying it as “backward” or “redneck” or whatever. I don’t get that. I’ve never felt more welcomed to a place than when I’ve passed through Waterville or Portland (not rural, I get it). Way more welcomed than a place like, say, randomly, Delaware. Yuck.

Flower Room, the tape (and sometimes, ahem, record) label seems like good people too, and though I’ve never been to Brunswick, I’ll have to make it a point to get there someday. Because the showrunners seem to be pretty specific about their welcoming attitude, generously presented to anybody from anywhere, and as such I feel like it’s important to shine a light on that behavior and hold it up as an example of how we should all act. It’s not easy, I’ll admit; but you’ve just gotta embrace it when you encounter it, especially during these days of barely (and not so) contained rage. Here, have a little descriptive copy, courtesy of the label itself, to get you in the benevolent mood that you need to be in: “Exploration & Discoveries in Improvisation & Harmonization ☄ Virtual rurality experiences, sonic sage cleansing, and hymns to manifest a more harmonious You-We-All ☤ Welcome.”

You guys hear that? “You-We-All ☤ Welcome.” I think I’m gonna like these Flower Room people. Let’s see what they’ve got for us, shall we?


STARBIRTHED – Chakra Three / Starbirthed / Messages From…

Three tapes from Starbirthed, the duo of Ash Brooks and ML Wah, and it seems like maybe this is the flagship recording moniker for Flower Room. I’m not 100 percent here, as the “About” section of the Flower Room website is emblazoned with “Coming Soon,” but there’s also a photograph of two people who may or may not be Ash and ML. I’m gonna guess that they are those people. Prove me wrong! Next, we must point out that all six of the beautiful tapes that arrived in the mail are presented in a “wraparound full-color tip-on cover in a clear polybox.” Just stunning work. “Chakra Three” is a guided meditation, two tracks, one on each side, in “yellow jasper gemstone to aid in balancing the third chakra (Solar Plexus / Will center).” I don’t know what that means, but I’m along for the ride here! “Starbirthed” also happens to be the duo’s vinyl debut, but we don’t talk about that here. The tape is a “deep-space violet semi-translucent shell,” also with the wraparound tip-on treatment. This, like “Messages From…” (green and black cover, silver cassette shell), is the very definition of cosmic, way-out zones, deep-space transmissions from star hearts and galactic centers and civilizations waaaay more advanced than we are. Makes me feel small. I kind of like it that way, keeps me centered, focused.


THICK AIR – Concert for Malakut

Thick Air conjures actual thick air indeed, as the one-person drone machine (and “French-Canadian mystic and scholar”) Arman de Chardin plies his polyphonic synthesizer to reach out spiritually to Malakut, or “Realm of Dominion,” which in “Islamic cosmology [contains] several metaphysical beings and places in Islamic lore, like angels, demons, jinn, hell, and the seven heavens.” Thanks, Wikipedia, for the assist! This “Islam” sounds more and more like Christianity the more I read about it. Weird. Anyhoo, Although the two pieces, “Astral Audience” and “Clairaudience,” were performed live at Green Lodge in Matra Point, Maine, de Chardin is truly trying to transcend these earthly shackles by reaching toward the spiritual and the infinite. And it’s true, as Flower Room suggests, that “Concert for Malakut” is a “complete out-of-body listening experience,” a transcended batch of tones that shift us ever closer to the divine. But not too close – we couldn’t survive, like, even a little bit if we came into the presence of the divine! Just imagine.


ASH BROOKS – Crown of Thyme

Starbirthed’s (and MAYBE Flower Room’s [see above]) Ash Brooks steps out on her own here on “Crown of Thyme,” her solo debut. Unlike the other releases we’ve already gone through, “Crown of Thyme” is an earthly mythology, a freak-folk concoction for people who spell “fairy” as “faerie” and “magick” with a “k” and participate in complicated forest rituals. Based around autoharp and voice (with some acoustic guitar thrown in here and there and an assist from ML Wah on loops, sitar, whatever the hell a “mijwiz” is, 10-string acoustic guitar, and percussion), “Crown of Thyme” is a heady mix of cosmic drone, outsider folk, and pagan ceremony. As intense as it is fascinating, Brooks’s work stands alone and apart from her work in Starbirthed, and on equal footing. I’m totally tripped out on it right now. Oh! Also, “moss agate gemstone package,” “transparent emerald cassette shell, hand-stamped in gold ink on both sides.”


MATT LAJOIE – Free to Be…

Sticking around in the acoustic spectrum of these soundtracks for astral projection, we have Matt LaJoie’s (NOT Matt LeBlanc – don’t make the same mistake I did) “Free to Be…,” a delightfully introspective yet imaginative acoustic guitar record. That’s right, just Matt and his “hybrid nylon/steel string” axe reading each other’s vibe and improvising delightful and patient trifles over the course of two Maine winter days. How can I describe what you’ll hear over the two sides of “Free to Be…”? How about simply using the first track’s title: “Meeting a Guide on the Sands of Time.” Mysterious, cosmic, ancient, full of meaning. (There’s also a track called “Delivering Mangoes,” but I’m not describing a Jimmy Buffett record, am I?) LaJoie’s a perfect foil to everything we’ve heard so far, a little more down to earth, a little more introspective. We’ll take that.


TONAL COSMOLOGY – In the Key of I

OK, now this is getting ridiculous. Tonal Cosmology is Ash Brooks and Matt LaJoie – is Flower Room just like this big inbred musical enterprise? I guess that’s OK if it is. More mind-melding that way, I imagine. Everybody on the same page. Here we’re introduced to the Tonal Cosmology “system,” whereby you’ll have the “opportunity to hear and become acquainted with your own Cosmic Chord.” This “astromusical system for reading and hearing the harmony of the spheres” is applied in this instance to “two major planetary transits,” and each “automatic composition” is “based on the ‘Cosmic Chord’ derived from the TC system’s music theory for those transits.” *Shakes head to clear it* That’s a lot of quotations! I mean, how the heck am I supposed to paraphrase that? Let’s just call these two long-form drones what they are: exquisite otherworldly compositions shimmering in the psychic darkness of deep space. “The Key of I” is ethereal bliss. Is this supposed to be emanating from myself?


Till next time, friendly Mainers!

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