Tabs Out | Michael Potter – Rain Song & Trance Music

Michael Potter – Rain Song & Trance Music

12.31.20 by Matty McPherson

Michael Potter’s Athens, GA based Garden Portal label might have less than a baker’s dozen tapes under its belt, but it should not distract from its distinctly naturalistic blend of psychedelia. There’s been a fascinating continuation of the “new weird south”, yet Potter’s work deserves greater emphasis than provided by the blanket term. “Cosmic Americana” better convey where his curatorial instincts have carried the Garden Portal label, while “Ambient Primitive” convey the sonic endeavors Potter and his ever shifting roster have been chasing going back to 2007 (if not longer!). On Rain Song and Trance Music (released under Michael Potter and The Electric Nature), Potter tapped into the power of this trance, spinning campfire songs towards astral trajectories.

Last year’s sold out Rain Song (on Already Dead) was akin to the long stretching John Fahey odysseys. Over 21 minutes, Potter dabbles in Louisville twang with a backing band (Web Hughes on bass and Steven Ledbetter on Drums), taking this twang on a moonlight journey down river, approaching hints of a “Sun Drugs” type ethereality. As pieces of sweeping cosmia go, there is not an element out of place-Hughes bass sounds like river creatures and fauna and Ledbetter’s drums point to the stars. It is literally music that swoons, demanding a dance (or pagan sacrifice of your choosing) for a cloud goddess. And it even gives a lil’ rain effect at the end to let you know it worked! The hissy live nuggets on side B further explore and embrace this kind of jam, akin to a back swamp dive bar beamed straight from the floorboards under your feet.

Now, at this point I would be inclined to state that Potter is a wizard, but after July’s Trance Music, he is a bonafide alchemist. It was here where “Cosmic Americana” seemed to achieve a transcendent peak. Rain Song is a necessary framework, as the former’s acoustic framework becomes warped by the latter’s “early Minimalist, Theatre of Eternal Music-style never-ending ur-drone, the New Zealand tradition of prolonged sturm und drang perfected by The Dead C, and modern ambient electronic synthesis and processing”. Taken as a referential flowchart across the 75 minutes of asynchronous, live recorded acoustics, the results are cosmic benders. Potter’s ingenuity is that he can start with these simple melodies that turn into echoed chasms that pull you deeper and deeper towards the abyss (Trance I). Or, he can repeat a melody until it turns into its own idiosyncratic, stuttering rain dance (Trance III). Deep listening rewards the keen ear, but just listening out on the porch over the morning coffee enacts its own blend of deep jitters (Trance IV’s usage of electronic processing is particularly mind shifting).

What more is there to say? There’s still a handful of copies left of this juicy blend of “Ambient Primitive”, even bundled alongside For a Better Tomorrow. Turn your Saturday morning into a 75 minute worship service!

A mixed edition of 75 white shell and 30 clear shell cassettes with professionally printed, natural cardstock j-cards. Available here and here.

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