Boomkat Product Review:
Drone is a beautiful thing I'll say that for sure, but it is, contrary to popular belief, incredibly difficult to get right. Countless releases pass through my fingers every week which try desperately to either incorporate drone elements or to master the genre itself - and countless fail, 'The Garden of Forking Paths', however, is a glorious exception. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is no newcomer to the scene, having cut his teeth as a founder member of post-rock/psychedelic stalwarts Tarentel he has recently set himself up as tastemaker and label boss with Root Strata and now he shows he can go it alone with this, his debut solo full-legnth album. Making the decision to shy away from laptop use was the first good move Jefre made, instead of using the crystal clear sound of 32-bit recording we're all so used to, Jefre dug out his reel-to-reel tape machine and microcassette recorders and decided to experiment with alternative recording methods. Taking control of the trusty guitar and also experimenting with harmonium, music box, gongs and cymbals among other intricate small instruments, Jefre proceeds to conjure up gorgeous, haunting sheets of droning harmonic sound. As the symphonies shift slowly you are drawn into the ambience and the glorious winds of tape hiss and wavering strings it is comparable to the best of early Stars of the Lid or Andrew Chalk, yet what Jefre adds is a distinct personality and a feeling of intimacy which is unavoidably his own. Maybe it's the feeling that these twelve tracks were created in a singular environment, sometimes being recorded even on location in the Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco, that you get sucked into this delicate, shimmering world. 'Drone' albums, if you can call this such, rarely reach the heights of 'The Garden of Forking Paths', and Spekk have again pulled out a real winner and packaged it fittingly well. Easily one of my highlights of the year so far and without a doubt something for Type, Kranky and Miasmah fans - a huge recommendation.