High Plains Cinderland

High PlainsCinderland
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High Plains is the name of a collaboration between Scott Morgan (loscil) and Mark Bridges, an ambient soundscape artist and a classically trained cellist, respectively. It also describes the locale — Saratoga, Wyoming — that they drew influence from, and wrote and recorded in. There are even some field recordings from the area blended in with the cello, piano and electronic textures.
 
This sparse but dirge-like music on their latest full-length, Cinderland, evokes the desolate winters of the Midwestern plains from whence it came, seemingly reminding us of nature's indifference towards humanity. This is not cold, lifeless music, however — quite the opposite. Though subdued and melancholic, there is a personal warmth and intimacy in these soundscapes.
 
Cinderland is not about death so much as the need to survive, recalling Ryuichi Sakamoto's excellent soundtrack to The Revenant, majestic yet troubled, sweeping yet insular. Both also worked nicely as reading music while I happened to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez' 100 Years Of Solitude; it's music befitting epic but personal stories.
 
The titular track "Cinderland" opens with patiently lapping cello, plodding piano and some subtle electronic textures. "Blood That Ran the Rapids" follows, submerging us in wind-tossed snowdrifts, with a wooden-sounding drum hit anchoring us. "Rushlight" simmers with mournful keys, evoking something off of Nine Inch Nails' 2002 collection, Still. "Song for a Last Night" marries the sound of creaking, swaying trees with trembling synths and a spacious cello melody.
 
With their sensitive instrumental playing and thoughtful arrangement of textures, High Plains perfectly capture the rugged and sprawling Midwest, but more impressively, an intangible mood and state of mind. A record like this is a rare achievement. (Kranky)