There are three short and one very long piece on Preparations, the recent album by Orchard & Ponds. The short ones range from barely a minute in length to just over two, and are entirely knowable: brief little exercises in low-slung, artfully maudlin sound. There’s a muffled recording of what is likely a mother singing to a child (“Lullaby”: MP3), heard as if through a thick wall; though always recognizable as a voice, on repeated listens it becomes a single melismatic sound, tracing the contours of the melody, and slowly dispensing with whatever words are involved. There’s an acoustic guitar ramble that brushes up against a rough harmonica (“The Drake”: MP3). And there’s a soulful mix of guitar and shards of roughly, lightly bowed violin that emphasizes the textural elements of both (“Bredoleau”: MP3).
And then there’s the title track, which at upwards of three quarters of an hour is not fully knowable (“Preparations”: MP3). Despite its title, there is no preparation for its extended near-silence, less a drone than an audio document of warm dust (for anyone who’s not an occasional or longtime reader of this website, that last description is intended as high praise). It’s a steadily paced investigation of quiet reverb, light static, and distant feedback, all given a semblance of structure thanks to some almost invisible looping, and the fact that the piece is bookended on the album by shorter, more concertedly defined works.