Beginning with the slow beauty of "Empty Naked Streets", the purportedly accidental 'bringing together' of Charlatan and the North Sea that resulted in the aptly named Charlatan Meets the North Sea is immediately obvious for the treasure it is; though Field Hymns' copy describes an only incidental meeting at the end of a shared set in Tulsa, explaining that the session (recorded by aging local wunderkind Brad Rose) would have taken place in the small hours of the morning. They weren't that small, though; Charlatan's set ending the gathering at around 4am. Incidentally, you should know both projects are Brad Rose. Whatever the circumstances or hurdles "they" faced ("Brad Rose [indicates] that the two didn't exactly get along"), the album that came of "their meeting" easily justifies the effort; "two" restrained masters of synth-craft nimbly playing their different cuts "from separate iso booths".
Artifice aside, the release is a gorgeous novelty in Brad's output, showcasing songs that after a summer's worth of recording in 2010 seemed equally unsuited to both projects; though nothing in his history is purely "novelty" and the shared attribution clearly advances both projects. It's still good novelty, though. The cover art is a not-so-subtle homage to the relationship and visual aesethics of definitive Jazz labels Blue Note Records and Verve (the one's classic layout and the other's equally iconic typeface), and even the copy itself, attributed to "Max Wolfsheimer" of "Smokin'", is a send-up of jazz writing. Having said that, it's a little hard to evaluate something that's been packaged as a "meeting" when really the origin is located in a completely different dynamic; they weren't really intended to reflect a meeting of the two aesthetics. Their production even predates Brad's most recent Charlatan release. The North Sea is the most difficult for me to associate with these recordings as I've been conditioned from an early exposure to expect harsh sonic barriers; Charlatan Meets the North Sea is less friendly than Brad's last Charlatan release, but not so difficult as the North Sea (preview the upcoming final album from that project via Experimedia). Oddly enough, the copy's use of the phrase "weatherbeaten analog skies" in a "RIYL" line makes better sense of it for me and I return to the faulty metaphor; Charlatan conjuring bright clouds at his leisure for the North Sea to sweep into larger formations, less gregarious but more pregnant with comprehensible meaning. If Brad has two pretty discrete mental hemispheres from which the two projects emanate, the faux meeting would make more sense. Who better than Brad to know just how pleasantly schizophrenic he might be?
MP3: Charlatan Meets the North Sea - Maximum Capacity
Look for updates on the album from Field Hymns. You should also keep checking back for news on their other upcoming releases, including new tapes with "Andreas Brandal, Jonathan James Carr (Brainfuit & Particle Being ensemble) Bastion Void, Nodolby, The Cats’ Orchestra, Boron and Portland’s own experimental synth super group Regular Music".