Birchville Cat Motel – With Maples Ablaze

Birchville Cat Motel is a collective consisting of 27 members. The music on ‘With Maples Ablaze’ is very ambient and environmental, with all kinds of field-recordings.
I must say that I’m not really into environmental ambient. Most of this ambient soundscapes are really devoid of melody, and actually even quite boring because of the repetitive, ‘empty’ sounds. I’m not particularly fond of this release, which is a pile of sounds, ‘structured’ in a quite random manner.

Track one starts out with a swirling sound, some guitar-amplifier brum-brum sounds, and evolves into track two, with (oh, how environmental) birds chirping. I imagine some guys in a studio, moving objects such as chairs and ashtrays, playing a bit of poker. Next to them, there are tape-decks rolling with sounds recorded in their gardens. They are playing around a little with their instruments, only improvising, careless of building up tension, rhythms, melody or a particular mood.
‘Well, I recorded a train today,’ says one to the other.
‘O cool, let’s roll it.’
‘Ah wait, I’m busy doing weird stuff with my guitar.’
‘When shall we play the bird sounds then?’
‘Ehm, after the chicken, for sure.’
(Of course, this conversation is manipulated and hidden unrecognisably in the music)

Track seven is good though, it has a nice flowing, sliding drone, painting a picture of a desolate area, with a desert feel. Then there is track eight, with the sound of (boiling?) water, with the same guitar drone continuing, howling, breezing. Track nine sounds as a one-chord piece, with some crackling of someone scraping his nails over a microphone. The added noises, again, sound really random which is a pity. Then, you can hear the chicken and again some birds, which is not really rewarding. It’s keeps on going and going.
Track ten has some bar chimes tickling and other minimalism, and another droning single tone. All very gentle, but quite uninspired.

artist: Birchville Cat Motel
label: Scarcelight Recordings
details: 10 tracks, 70 min, 2004 [SLR21]