'Incidental Music', the newest offering from The Green Kingdom - the moniker under which musician Michael Cottone operates - and stated by Tench as being the most "reserved and patient" of his releases to date, is an album that draws together the best of hi-fi production and flawless manipulation of organic sound palettes with a songwriting sensibility on par with that of Oren Ambarchi or Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabreik). Indeed, Ambarchi's 2004 release 'Grapes From the Estate' on Touch is an album that seems to run parallel to 'Incidental Music' - for although perhaps immediate sonic and instrumentally-based connections may be drawn with Zuydervelt's own work, it is the intense, overarching sense of being an observer in the middle of something at peace with itself that this record is drawn into that same exclusive club as Ambarchi's creations.
Whilst organic concepts and sounds are often used in ambient music, the level of finesse with which Cottone has created 'Incidental Music' cannot be understated; never does he rely on field recordings or samples of natural sounds to create this 'natural ambience' (although the individual track listings may somewhat help direct the listener's mind toward the natural world) - almost all of the sounds on the record are that of an acoustic guitar. Even allowing for the level of electronic processing and alteration that has lead to some of the droning elegance in the album, that such an intimate acoustic instrument has been shaped into such an otherworldly - yet still very organic and identifiable - record is worthy of much praise in itself.
Production and process aside, the finished recordings are only (and somewhat paradoxically, considering the nature of Cottone's intention for the album and its title) to be described as magnificent. Incidental percussive knocks and open, hanging chords become, in the context that Cottone sets them, the soundtrack to any activity, and it is in their emotive light that one can stop whatever they are doing for a moment and think - an opportunity that is sometimes almost impossible without some sort of prompt in a too-fast day. The understated nature of this record, as noted previously, paradoxically results in an album that cannot be ignored.
Review by Max Hampshire