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  Lance Austin Olsen & Barry Chabala 
  A field of wildflowers for our lost souls  
  (Roeba) 


  
   review by John Eyles
  2021-11-11
Lance Austin Olsen & Barry Chabala: A field of wildflowers for our lost souls (Roeba)

The enforced lockdown brought about by covid-19 led many musicians to release recordings, old or new, via Bandcamp as a source of income in the absence of live gigs at which they had previously been able to sell CDs directly to concertgoers. The lack of social contact also meant that many of the new recordings were created single-handed or via long-distance collaborations, with audio files being sent back and forth electronically. Together or separately, Canada's Lance Austin Olsen and New Jersey-born Barry Chabala are particularly productive in posting new recordings on Bandcamp via their own labels, Infrequency (Olsen with Jamie Drouin) and Roeba (Chabala). Both are active in a variety of small groups, so the two recording together as a duo had a certain inevitability about it. They first collaborated in a trio with Bruno Duplant, the resulting album, Dark Before Dawn, being released on Roeba, in October 2019; their first duo album Patterns for a Future Human was released on Roeba in May 2020.

A field of wildflowers for our lost souls is recognisably from the same source as Patterns for a Future Human as the two both comprise multi-layered sound collages, although the soundscapes on the new release do not feature the studio chat heard on the earlier one. In each case, Olsen seems to have been the driving force; for example, A field of wildflowers for our lost souls carries the credit "concept, text score and cover painting by Lance Austin Olsen." Among other things, Olsen said this of his score, "I imagined an entire field of wild seeds resting in the ground waiting for the change that would allow each one to pop through the ground at a slightly different moment with a slightly different sound, like an audio version of a colour field painting." Chabala himself said of Olsen, "His concepts run so deep that it's so easy to just get lost in there somewhere and just let music pour out."

The album comprises three tracks; "Fallow Earth" plays for under six minutes and features Olson alone playing amplified objects; "Seeding and Growing" plays for eleven-and-a-half minutes and has Olsen on amplified objects plus trainer guitar, and Chabala on guitar; "Growing and Blooming" has Chabala alone on guitar for thirteen-and-a-half minutes, making the total playing time thirty-one minutes. The album's relative brevity is not an issue as its three tracks complement one another and work well together as a coherent piece. There is a narrative arc to the music; opening with Olsen's harsh-edged sounds (representative of the chaos and grief of covid), the gradual introduction of guitar tones reduces the harshness and signals regeneration as seeds are sown and grow, culminating in the soothing harmony of Chabala's guitar as they grow and bloom. Music with a message, but a universal one rather than it being tied to particular events.



Lance Austin Olsen & Barry Chabala: A field of wildflowers for our lost souls
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