Label: Lost Tribe Sound
Release: Valley of the Hummingbirds
Date: October 13, 2023
Mastered By: Giuseppe Ielasi
Artwork By: Ryan Keane
In the last few months, I’ve offered a few bits of coverage praising the output of the Wisconsin-based independent label Lost Tribe Sound. In September, I shared the Therianthrope Series by Arrowounds, then mentioned the Drawing Virtual Gardens project in my ⟪ REW | FF ⟫ column, rounding off with the Studio showcase featuring Arrowounds once again. I assure you that I’m not in bed with the imprint, but the fact that it keeps appearing on these pages is only a testament to the quality of its catalogue, especially with the ongoing Subscription Series titled Maps To Where The Poison Grows. The label, run by Ryan Keane, portrays itself as “admiring music that leaves its tattered edges proudly in place, acoustic instrumentation blended seamlessly with dirty mechanics, timeworn sound worlds rooted in the muck and the mire of the present.” And I wouldn’t say it any other way. I suppose this prelude of my writings has only been a build-up [like most of their music] to this long-awaited post on one of my favourite projects, From the Mouth of the Sun, and their latest masterpiece, Valley of the Hummingbirds, which is out today, October 13th.
FTMOTS is a collaborative project between two multi-instrumentalists, an American cellist, Aaron Martin and Swedish Dag Rosenqvist (aka Jasper TX). The two introduced their sound to my ears back in 2012 (FFS… has it really been over a decade already?) when they released Woven Tide on Experimedia, followed by Into The Well (Fluid Audio, 2015), Hymn Binding (Lost Tribe Sound, 2017), Sleep Stations (Lost Tribe Sound, 2018), Light Caught The Edges (Lost Tribe Sound, 2021). As you can see for yourself, I’ve thoroughly covered each release. Many of these have ended up on my Best of the Year selections, and I suspect that we’ll see Valley of the Hummingbirds this year as well. [I usually do not make such predictions, but heck, we’re almost in December anyway].
The album starts off quieter than ever. Here we are, amid an incoming storm, alive with great anticipation. “The Herd (Murmuration)” is a 20-minute track, and it perfectly outlines the journey through this vast landscape of sound, so much so that when “The Medusa” ends, after playing for nearly ten minutes, I wish that it was twice allotted time for it to gradually evolve. In fact, I only wish that the entire album was much longer, which is essentially the three presented tracks plus bonus edits for the digital version. And that makes sense – compositions on Valley of the Hummingbirds were originally written for the same-titled dance performance by Danae & Dionysios (pictured above). The pieces were then reworked, revised, and further adapted to appear here in their album form. And, as is usual with most of my favourite music – all that means is that I get to press play again and travel through this place from the beginning.
Right. I feel as if I haven’t really talked about the music. But do you really want me to? Should I dissect all this emotion into its multi-layered, textured parts? Should I refer to the dynamics, to the distortion, to the deep, cavernous, and hollow drops to convey the tension, the anxiety of the unknown, and the fervent appeal that stirs things up into a climax? I feel like that would almost be a spoiler – to tell you how the movie ends. For those who have been following the duo from the beginning, Valley of the Hummingbirds is a required listen, plain and simple. For those who have only now discovered that music like this is the reason to wake up and pay full attention, I highly recommend you traverse the journey from the beginning – something I think I’ll do so today.
p.s. I really can’t believe it’s been more than a decade since the debut. Sheesh! Here’s my Interview with the duo from January 2012, which covers how Aaron and Dag met, the origin of the project name, and a lot more…