It was just recently that BigTreeBlueLake released Confidential Forces. BigTreeBlueLake also teamed up with a musician known as Shaman for Shaman Goes To Big Tree Blue Lake. Hmmm I guess it’s all in the title, isn’t it?
The EP features four songs and apparently there's a story in there somewhere. Like nearly every release with some kind of narrative I never would have guessed in a million years what this actually was about unless I read it. In this case the vocals are basically indecipherable making the narrative even more marginal. The music is lo-fi just like Confidential Forces and also has experimental tendencies like it as well.
The duo starts off with “Desert” which is a hypnotic song that repeats like a mantra. I really liked the opening guitar riff which starts the loop of sounds. Not much later intersecting vocal harmonies are added to the mix. Like I mentioned earlier I couldn't make out what they were saying but it was catchy. Subtle elements enter into the mix along with distinctly different sounding vocals. This isn’t exactly a dynamic song by any stretch of the imagination. No catchy chorus, not much of a change at all really. The song has more in common with something you would hear from a ambient artist than an indie rock band.
“Ice/Fire” is a different animal all together. The song is sprawling is some ways. I don’t think (I hope) these guys weren’t taking themselves too seriously on this track. Its hyperbolic scripts which feels like something from a fantasy movie felt silly and over exaggerated. It’s almost felt like they were poking fun at concepts they were trying to deliver. The song starts with reverb-laced guitar and a unique vocal delivery. The song felt off-kilter in a good way. It was almost similar to something you would hear from Ariel Pink. The song cleverly transitions into a sustained vocal section. This is where the song just goes off the rails. They talk back and forth as if they are in an improv troupe trying to deliver lines about Lord of The Rings. After a while the song just sort of dissipates.
“The Lake” is a minute-and-a half bubbly ambient piece. Not too much to say here. They close with “Death (Shaman Goes To Big Tree Blue Lake)” which really doesn’t have many changes. It’s a long five-minute piece of white noise and maybe horns. I couldn’t really tell. It’s very dreamlike and is constantly floating away.
Shaman Goes To Big Tree Blue Lake is a release that would have benefited with a step up in recording quality. The ability to distinguish the vocals would have created a more immersive experience. I also think some clarity on the ambient pieces would have helped.
Shaman Goes To Big Tree Blue Lake is far from perfect but there are some things that worked well. I thought the EP was cohesive and I appreciated the experimentation. There were also some catchy vocal melodies especially on the first track.
I was thinking by the end that maybe they should just make a video to accompany this music if they really want to play up the narrative. I’d be into that. Food for thought
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