[sic] Magazine

The Green Kingdom – Seen And Unseen

The Green Kingdom is the solo project of Michael Cottone, a sound artist and graphic designer based in Michigan, USA. Seen And Unseen is his first album for the specialist label Sound In Silence. According to the press release that accompanied this promo, Cottone’s interest is “in creating compositions which blur the lines between soundscape and structure while keeping a sharp focus on melody”. The wording is very apt here. As you might expect from an ambient, down-tempo composer the music can often eschew structure in favour of soundscape. The Green Kingdom is more than that though as opening piece ‘Kodama’ aptly illustrates. Gently persuasive, ‘Kodama’ takes us by the hand as we embark upon a journey across seven varied, understated and beautiful tracks. I’m put to mind variously of acts like Last Days and Eluvium. With its ever shifting moods and tones this album perfectly captures that sense of growth/evolution.

“Blur” is another interesting choice of wording from that mail-out. The whole album has a water vibe, perhaps due to the keys, which are evocative of gentle summer rain. Indeed there are times when everything seems very naturalistic. Yet, like a morning dewdrop atop a lush green leaf, the moment can be fleeting and ephemeral. A drop of water clinging to an impossible surface – loaded with possibility yet fated to drop down to earth.

To enrich it.

It’s a lush Green Kingdom indeed.

Michael Cottone uses a variety of instruments, electronic sources, sampled textures and field recordings. For Seen And Unseen, he utilises electric guitar swells, textures of warm synth pads, rich harmonic drones, subtle glitches, acoustic piano, guitar and ukulele. Ambient fans eventually get their share. ‘Illuminations’ has an all-enveloping introspection to it while ‘Cloud Wanderings’ is a work of quite staggering simplicity and beauty – the perfect accompaniment for any misty eyed stargazer. However Seen And Unseen is just too smart and too present to be solely ambient. The album was mastered by George Mastrokostas (aka Absent Without Leave) and, despite his rich back catalogue, this one has to go down as some kind of high water mark for The Green Kingdom.