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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Nate Wooley

Columbia Icefield - Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes

Review by Gary Hill

I previously reviewed another disc from Nate Wooley. That one was unusual because it was one 45-minute piece of music. This one has its own oddities. One of those is that every other track is untitled, showing as (........). I've called each of them "Untitled Track One," "Untitled Track Two," and so one. This is very freeform and unique music. It's definitely art music. It's also pretty darned cool.

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Track by Track Review
Untitled Track One
This is an ambient piece that has sound effects along with nature samples and more in the mix.
I Am The Sea That Sings of Dust
Somewhat psychedelic oddities rise up as this track comes into being. At almost 16-minuts of music, this is the epic of the disc. It has a real freeform weirdness to it, although it remains quite mellow. Strange sounds and frantic drumming rise up later. This rises up toward almost traditional jazz for a short time later along the road. Although this gets more intense and louder, it remains freeform from there.
Untitled Track Two
More freeform oddities are on display on this track. It's artsy, a little spacey and quite intriguing. Nature sounds take over at the end of this exploration.
A Catastrophic Legend
Ambient elements bring this in, and it grows upward gradually from there. There is a section about a quarter of the way through this that has some bass sounds that rise up in cool patterns. That gives way to some pretty crazed and weird jamming that still manages to stay rather sedate. More strangeness ensues as this continues. After the halfway mark a bass line brings a new energy and direction. The cut works out into more of a mainstream jazz arrangement, but it remains more fusion-like. As this evolves and explores there is a cool bass and drum workout later.
Untitled Track Three
This piece is made up of freeform jazz fusion. It's weird, but also tasty.
Returning To Drown Myself, Finally
Strange spacey music with ambience and jazz elements at play starts this track. Strange effects take over after a while. That ends and a horn rises up from there. It grows upward eventually into really bizarre jamming. While it remains quite freeform and suitably strange, this does drift toward more mainstream jazz from there.
Untitled Track Four
Although still on the freeform side, there is a melodic jazz element as this gets underway. The cut eventually drifts to just the sounds of the sea from there. Those sounds end the album a while later.
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