"...evokes images of John Carpenter suffering from a bad migraine jamming with King Midas Sound" - Lowdown Magazine
'Herons' is the rain-sodden, star-gazing debut album from Portland producer James Cooke aka Graintable. Released on digital and limited edition cassette via Ransom Note Records, it’s home to 10 tracks of mind-altering ambient, drone and synth that wash over you like tides at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Graintable’s omnivorous output to date has encompassed everything from new age-y house to instrumental hip-hop and UK techno. With the acquisition of a Roland Juno-106 in 2013, he found his creative process becoming more open-ended, and his compositions more experimental. Recorded over the course of two years in a series of late night, one-take hardware jams, 'Herons' stands as his greatest achievement yet, executed with quiet patience, deftness of touch and breathtaking textures.
Opening track ‘Lunar Tides’ sounds like hollowed-out techno, leaving behind dubby ambience and a phantom kick drum. ‘Odysseus’ and ‘Atlantis’ both take spiralling arpeggios and channel them into noisy crescendos. Other tracks are saturated with the landscape and weather of the Pacific Northwest - the mud-caked ‘610’ is built around a back porch field recording of rainfall and birds, while ‘Nautical Waltz’ conjures up lonely radar blips in the midst of a whirling storm. On ‘39’, Graintable’s subtle melodies come to the fore like woozy slo-mo synth pop wrapped up in a wool blanket.
Like all the best ambient records, 'Herons' feels unmoored from time. Graintable finds inspiration in the music of past masters Brian Eno, Steve Roach and Richard D. James. Fans of artists such as Terekke, Alessandro Cortini, Huerco S. and Emeralds’ Steve Hauschildt will find much to enjoy here.
The album takes its name from a decommissioned paper mill to the south of Portland, now a island of metal and concrete reclaimed by nature. Indeed, the city’s location - sandwiched tightly between the mountainous Cascades and the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean - goes some way towards explaining the unique energy of Cooke’s compositions. With 'Herons', Graintable has announced himself as a talented artist who’s sure to be the recipient of much attention in the years to come.
released April 27, 2018
All tracks written & produced by James Cooke.
Art & design by Evan Geltosky.
Biosphere's albums seem to get better every time you listen, while the converse sadly seems to be true for a lot of other music. Biosphere's soundscapes are like experiences you want to revisit to find previously undiscovered treasures. Matelot