Music Reviews from the Staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House


February 14, 2021
Fields of Yarrow - Robert Eggplant
Label: self-released via Bandcamp
Catalog #: None
Country: United States
Release Date: January 4, 2021
Media: digital files entry

The aubergine, or eggplant as it is known in the United States, is a member of the nightshade family, which bears a purple-skinned fruit. The eggplant is regarded as a culinary delight the world over and is to be found in the cuisines of South Asia, South Africa, Europe and North America. Monsieur Robert Aubergine, or Mr. Robert Eggplant as he is called in the wild environs of Idaho, has adopted several characteristics of the fruit in his recipe for instrumental delights presented for public consumption on the recently released Fields of Yarrow album. The flesh of the eggplant is low in nutrient content; presumably this trait inspired the minimalist approach of the music, in which one encounters not an immediate abundance of sustenance, but rather a pared down menu to be digested gradually over the course of the hour-long record. Nor has Mr. Eggplant neglected the spongy flesh of the fruit which bears his name in the making of his music. Just as the eggplant is used on the plate to absorb the oils and flavors of other ingredients, so too do the acoustical preparations of the various guitars, Moog Rogue and Volca Modular synthesizers and tapes absorb the elements of each other, creating a palette of sound pleasing to the ears and relaxing to body and mind. In fact the opening track, "Absorbence", captures this element both in terms of sound as well as title. Blended into this sonic mix are field recordings of places remote and mundane.

The liner notes advocate "Maximum volume for maximum enjoyment," a suggestion which we whole-heartedly ignored. Our tender ears prefer music to be played at a barely detectable volume. We recall the sentiment of British non-idiomatic improvising guitarist, Derek Bailey, who said, "Playing very quiet can disturb people, including other musicians."* For those of us who require disturbance to prod ourselves into a state of consciousness where we are most receptive to new music, we take this advice to heart. We are happy to report the success of our experiment. Like any work of art, the music on Fields of Yarrow is accessible to different sorts of individuals approaching it from multiple directions.

*Derek Bailey, interview 1997, from "Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation" by Ben Watson, Verso, London, 2004, p. 103.



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