“Sketch for Winter II: Rue Corridor” C22
(Geographic North)

Mark Nelson—the Pan•American, the only one you’ll ever need to know, and not the failed airline best known for its synonymity with Lockerbie, Scotland—cut his teeth in ambient rock outfit Labradford, and if you don’t lurve yourself some ambient rock classics like I do, you oughta get the fudge out of my living room right now. Not because I don’t like you – I’m just going to throw on, oh I dunno, A Stable Reference, I guess. I understand if you’re not in that mood.

Or better yet, let’s hear some new Nelson classics, yes? Nelson started doing Pan•American as a solo thing in 1997, putting out more ambient stuff. The discography is rich and gorgeous. And he’s been at it a long time. So when  the cassette EP Sketch for Winter II: Rue Corridor popped up on my radar, I was immediately intrigued as to what this longtime scenester (shut up, everything’s a scene!) was up to in the present.

Part of Geographic North’s Sketches for Winter series (which also includes A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s I: New Christmas Classics, Night Cleaner’s III: Green Sleeves, and Moon Diagrams’s IV: Care Package) released solely on cassette, Rue Corridor is 22 minutes of gleaming audio head candy, which is kind of exactly what Nelson does best. (That was a long sentence – let’s recast it as “Nelson is good at making music. This tape is also good.”) Yeah, there’s some seasonality here, so as the icicles are melting across this great land of ours (Denmark, duh), remember that when this was released, the New Year was just upon us.

“The Terrace” glimmers across side A in its icicle-y goodness, refracting sound visibly as particles through prisms and capturing it in miniature under microscopes. Take a bunch of cold breaths, let them out, and listen to the cloud of condensation you’ve just expelled. In another universe, this is what everyone listens to year round, but here it’s probably for winter only (and thus marketed well, Geographic North!). The title track wiggles like a penguin documentary beneath an ice shelf, and they’re catching fish and avoiding orcas! It’s a cool world, under there (*affixes sunglasses to face*). And the synth squall of “Pasqual” intones approaching night, perhaps for months at a time depending on your latitude (*affixes sunglasses to face, again, because why not*).

For goodness’ sake, remember Mark Nelson with this release! And don’t let the impending springtime fool you with its false sense of hope and happiness. Make it winter all the time, baby, and stick your head in a hole. Penguins do, and who argues with penguins? (Wait, that’s ostriches, isn’t it…)

--Ryan Masteller