K/S/R & Wind Tide – Split

6.22.23 by Matty McPherson

Have you ever watched your famous empty pond become…well I guess an unempty pond? One filled with winter rains that slowly evaporate across spring? But have you ever had it evaporate so slowly algae starts to suddenly grow and turn the granite colored water to swamp granite? That empty pond…it’s aging well in its late day life; never thought I’d see a day where it would mature enough to have algae here on the property. But today, it does.

I suppose there’s something within that paragraph above you could untangle a connection to the KSR/Wind Tide split from January 6th of this year, released by the sterling, PHYSICAL, tape label of New Mexico. We come nearly half a year after its release, as my ears have continued to mature (and bubble like algae?), once again finding myself back to craving the gaps and the space between the noise; they bubble like algae I suppose. Anyways, K/S/R is comprised of Abigail Smith, Justin Rhody, and Ben Kujawski, and they happen to keep their feet low to the ground. They’ve been working with PHYSICAL before on releasing other 2022 recordings at the No Name Cinema and the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe. This time their work in the venue sees the trio laid down three inquisitive, low-rumbling improvisations of wind instruments and stringed playing. It maintains one hand in free-jazz and another in rudimentary slow finger picking. Smith and Rhody often complement themselves thanks to their flute and violin playing, respectively; it’s the kind where both of the performer seems to be trying a tickle of a flute or a ghastly high-wire chord crash out of each other. All the while, Kujawski hangs underneath with impressive electronic bass or free form pedal steel and unkmept percussive. Together, the trio’s free forms on Side A are nothing short of a small ruminations. Fit for dusk or dawn, these are pieces that labor slowly in their space, beckoning to be beamed on your porch in the comedown or come-up of a scorching desert day. The energy of the pieces themselves reflect low desert plains and the tourist traps of lost wisdom found within, tangled lethargic balls of energy that keep you a minute and seem to take you somewhere further out.

Of course, Side B will lead us to perhaps the best non-tourist trap in the plains of West Texas: the Wind Tide studio in Littefield’s downtown. Have you ever visited Wind Tide studio? It’s quite the spacious endeavor. Wind Tide, Gretchen Korsmo & Andrew Weathers, keep the endeavor as an open-book affair, which is what makes Wind Tide (the project) a rather exciting, enticing proposition. The 2020 era releases from the two were obsessed with the studio space itself, turning their home loft/studio/etc into one grand musique concrete tribute and experience to the time and place. But as that energy has furthered back into Full Spectrum’s land art MO, Wind Tide has found themselves industrious as ever. The resulting tinkering with synth almost-pop and drone works (most notably 2021’s haunting surprise, Saturation Dust) has given the project’s longforms their own sense of adventure. Turn Up the Periwinkle is a serendipitous experience for Korsmo & Weathers, pushing away any traces of the project’s naturalism or intrinsically sweetness for a relatively brevity focused speculative fiction oriented soundtrack soundscape. Both the duo utilize synths (of an unknown source), as well as clarinet & tenor sax (respectively). With further instrumentation including lap steel and piano keys with even microcassette (loops?) and a shruti box being brought in, the duo work refinements towards a strange kind of monolithic entity. The synths radiate like plutonium, with a glisten that sugarcoats the ear. As such, the shruti box and microcassette loops maintain prescient buoyancy in the mix, as the horn and clairnet paint oblong shapes amongst their cryptid notes. Its calming though. Especially in the moments the synths drone at their lowest and leave them just playing off each other. The kinship to that moment, two souls on the Texas prairie just rehearsing their own prairie jazz. A fine day’s work.

Edition of 100 copies w/download code, professionally dubbed with gold printed shells, are available now at the PHYSICAL Bandcamp Page