Forest for the Trees

Jack Hertz and Cousin Silas "The Quiet Forest" cover artAnother Equinox is upon us, signaling the end of a season and the beginning of another, the transition from light to dark or dark to light, depending on which hemisphere you happen to occupy. With it comes an opportunity to contemplate nature in its myriad forms, so today we’ll take a walk through the trees.

On this week’s edition of At Water’s Edge, we feature a brand new, hot-off-the-press release from Jack Hertz and Cousin Silas on the excellent We are all ghosts – netlabel, called “The Quiet Forest”. In addition, we’ll hear tracks from Samsa, Darren Harper, Dave Luxton, Atomic Skunk, and Chris Russell and Disturbed Earth.


“Knowing Nothing” – Samsa – A Forest Without Trees (2006)

Samsa is Nathan Larson, who is also the artist behind Bunk Data, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This album, dedicated to alternative forms of meditation and mind expansion, was recorded in early 2006 at Dark Winter Studios in Minneapolis. Samsa was the sole artist, providing drones, vocal distortions and altered percussion sounds.

“Amongst the Trees” – Darren HarperThe Hundredth Mantra (2009)

To celebrate the great milestone of one hundred releases on the Earth Mantra netlabel, it was decided early on that this album should be a compilation of the artists who made up the previous ninety-nine releases. Little did they realize how many of the artists would want to contribute and how excellent the music would be. As a result, this release grew to encompass four full discs of ambience, with more than four hours of music end to end.

Darren Harper is an ambient and electronic musician hailing from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in Nederland, Colorado, USA. He has been a musician for more than twenty years, originally in the realms of punk and esoteric space-rock jams.

Darren began the journey of a trance and ambient DJ/producer early in the new millennium as half of the improvisational ambient/noise duo Holomovement. Darren’s compositional works range from beatless, environmental ambient to minimal atmospheric trance, and often attempt a merge somewhere in between.

He describes himself as “obsessed with electronic music”, particularly ambient music. He explores both dark ambience as well as more “blissed” tones. He has released solo psytrance music on Ektoplazm Records, and has also participated in a collaborative ambient project called Frequent Sync, with fellow Earth Mantra artist Jacob Newman.

“The Forest and the Trees” – Dave LuxtonHidden Music (2008)

Dave Luxton’s musical origins begin during his childhood in northern New England. From his earliest memories, he had been drawn to music by its magical power to evoke emotion and communicate the human experience, and began creating music with synthesizers as a child and began to teach myself guitar as a teenager. When he was 17, he began formal lessons with classical guitarist Michael Silvestri, and then briefly attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and later continued the study of classical guitar at the Music Department at the University of S. Maine.

A desire for travel and an interest in electronics led him to serve in the United States Air Force. He took guitars and recording equipment everywhere he went, and in the late 1990s, started a small music production company called Starsponge Studios in Austin Texas. During that time, he started focusing on the creation of video and film scores. His works have appeared in several soundtracks, played at film festivals, and has been aired on PBS.

He also played in several bands over the years as a lead guitarist. He toured regionally with Austin based Latin Rock artist Carolina in 2003 and played outdoor festivals, historic venues, and regular shows on Austin’s 6th Street. He has since played in several blues and rock bands and he performs live acoustic guitar sets on occasion.

He founded the Wayfarer Records label in 2007. As a music producer for the label, he has worked with several artists from around the world such as Daren Keck and Boreal Taiga. He has also produced and released eleven of his own studio albums and he continues to compose film scores.

He has a PhD. in Clinical Psychology and is also a professor, writer, and researcher (click here for list of publications). He’s a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). He lives in Olympia Washington.

“Leaves on Trees” – Chris Russell and Disturbed Earth – The Approaching Armada (2010)

“The Approaching Armada” is the first album I recorded in Australia after relocating from the U.S. in 2008. The ominous title says it all, and was my mood in those harrowing days of my then-unknown future in Australia.

Chris’ enigmatic soft synth loops were love at first listen to me… their sensitive, sonic quality had a feeling that I knew would lend them to my analog “reel to reel” looping, sound design techniques used in previous Disturbed Earth recordings. This is truly an album of giving the illusion of multi-layering, when in actuality it was only done in a few live takes for each track. This album was also a first for me to “not play” as such, as a musician; to be able to recreate my playing through Chris’ loops… I found this the way to go and it freed me up to produce… it really paid off!!!

So having said that, the whole concept of working with another person ushers in the whole thing of respect, communication, time, time zones (Chris in the U.S. / Dean in Australia) and the expanding of each other’s sensibilities… taking each other where we haven’t been before… stretching/confronting.

For the most part, all tracks on the album were mixed on my makeshift computer at the time… using Magix Audio Studio 11, I also used Ableton Live 7 on the track “From East To Evening” which includes manipulated vocals from my long time collaborator, kyra aka “pixyblink”.

“The Approaching Armada” is all about Chris’ electronics that have been soft soaked, the brittle remaining dark and edgy… and Disturbed Earth’s presence in the sound.

(Comments from Dean Richards / Disturbed Earth)

The Quiet Forest – Jack Hertz and Cousin Silas (2013)

  • Into Spring
  • North Wind
  • Light Beams
  • Something In The Forest
  • Ring Of Trees
  • South Wind

Thomas Mathie, the founder of the wearallghosts netlabel, wrote the following about this release:

The 30th album on weareallghosts is an innovate collaboration between a couple of giants of ambient electronic music: Jack Hertz & Cousin Silas … two chaps I am proud to call friends.

“The Silent Forest” features six wonderfully emotive and aurally stimulating ambient soundscapes. They are the kind of visually arresting atmospheres that got me into ambient electronic music all those years ago. The minute I heard them … I knew they would make for a fitting release on weareallghosts.

The music Hertz & Silas have made here is the kind of music that holds that extra special added dimension … theirs is the kind of music that transports the listener to far off realms and alternate realities. Field recordings underpin dark, eerie synths to create the soundtrack for one or more Lovecraftian dystopias. “South Wind”, for example, reminded me so much of “At the Mountains of Madness” that I was compelled to reread Lovecraft’s classic story.

This album is a tribute to both Jack Hertz and Cousin Silas … whose synergistic partnership has really made something beautiful indeed.

As before, an MP3 version will be available over on Archive weir free with a lossless version available on Bandcamp for ’pay what you want’ … which does include £0. Don’t worry if you can’t pay … I have the credits … all I would ask, if you download “The Silent Forest (waag_rel030)” for free, that you post about it on Twitter or Facebook and tell all your friends about the special partnership that is Hertz & Silas … oh and if you tell them about this wee netlabel too, it would be appreciated.

– Tx

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