Bluetung, aka Mitchell J.G. Reynolds, returns to .jpeg Artefacts with Music for Our Dying Earth – a precise and delicate song-cycle centred on guitars, synthesisers, and a formless ambient space of his own devising. These works drift through melancholic and optimistic spaces of imagined beauty, with analog fuzz and sprinkles of warbled field-recordings around the edges.
While creating this new work, Reynolds found himself agonised by a morose twist of fate: the Gondwana Rainforests that inspired his previous album, The Reserve, were being destroyed in the catastrophic bushfires that have set a new standard for the Australian summer – turning from idyllic to chaotic in a flash. And as Reynolds' own health was failing in a lengthy period of escalating surgery complications, he was observing from afar the area surrounding his hometown burn. It would not be long until the crisis reached Victoria, too.
The genesis of this album had come earlier in 2019, on a sunny, autumn afternoon. Reynolds found a new sonic direction between the casting of a vote in the Australian Left's "unloseable election" and a crushing realisation that the nation had other plans. It was in the fallout of this event that the album took form. The title, less elegiac than it may seem, is a helplessly sardonic take on the idealism of intended listening spaces and their demands; listen wherever you may be, listen while you can.
Utilising a distinctly 1970s kosmische-inspired palette of treated acoustic and electric guitars, faltering vintage synthesisers, tape manipulations and saxophone improvisations – the album eschews the live minimalism of The Reserve to evoke an era of burgeoning knowledge and hope that humanist responsibility would prevail. Reynolds delicate folk musings are tied together with a nostalgic tint via decay and warbling, isolating and preserving the golden moment of reprieve before the heat truly kicks in – a kind of therapeutic, pastoral minimalism.
And though it may be tempting for the listener to divine a meaning that is centred only on ecological imbalance, perhaps these pieces are more attuned to accessing and interpreting the inner cycles of the people who orbit these events – our “Naïve Hopes”. This isn’t soundtracking the end. It’s more akin to looking to the personal within times of distress, and spinning out a tableau that we can all hear in our own ways, when needed. - .jpeg Artefacts