Brette Naucke – The Back of the Garden (Unifactor Tapes, 2018)

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It’s been incredibly cold lately, but the threat of Spring is growing. The mornings have been bright and crisp, the Sun beginning to gain a little more ground in the sky with each passing day; if it wasn’t for the absence of heat and the continuing greyness of the plant world, I would have said we were there already.

The change often feels most noticeable on one’s own doorstep, the careful arrangement of our gardens slowly returning to a livelier state of being and underscoring the seasonal evolution the entire hemisphere faces. These are quiet and personal spaces, away from the busyness of the outside world, microcosms of selected species purposed for our own personal satisfaction. “A Bronze Entrance” slips us into our sacred space at the dawning, yet still weak, light of Spring. Watery and somewhat discordant at first its axis still feels out of alignment as it tips into twinkling serenity, its little world sparkling into life as tiny beats roll off the millions of dewdrops and sheening frost, new leaves and shoots glowing under a strengthening Sun.

More obvious signs of life emerge in the buzzing, humming static floatations of “Solarium Bee Sting” as it fills with quiet and distant tones, synth notes dripping like honey out of the woozy indistinctness. It remains aloof, the strange life of these busy, furry workers lost except for their brief appearances touching every open bud in relaxed co-dependence.

It finds itself sandwiched within the appropriate “Flora Counterpoint” suite, cute little pieces filled with Spring excitation in their rolling xylophonic tones. The former has a more retro pastiche about it, its zipping energy carefully outlined in methodical analogue synth arpeggiations as the various flowers burst forth in almost clockwork autonomy, matched to some subconscious climactic clock.

The latter has a deeper, more enigmatic vibe as its backfield fills with deepening drone meatiness, its outward activity slowed and less frenetic but still present in chirpy and flickering electronic tones. It feels more entrenched, more consistent and established; lush, but no longer rushed.

For the final two pieces we only tumble further into this feeling of comfortable establishment; beautiful “Daylight Savings” rises on a bed of idiosyncratic guitar pickings, swelling slowly as the days lengthen to climax in a shimmering cloud of crystalline miscellany. It’s jaunty and jovial, revelling in life. It’s balanced nicely by the restraint of the title track at the close, glowing drones breathing rich life through our humble little garden in long and slow pulsations. The period of refreshment is elongate, it almost feels like the colour will never return at Winter’s nadir, but as we journey back into the careful depths of our personal biosphere we’re enveloped in its restorative aura.

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