It starts out crackling, with an echo of a voice over, eerie, speaking of creating new language, making a spooked-out cave feeling; it draws pictures of Natives and painted walls, and this is Ash Black Bufflo, doing exactly what the spectral voice says, creating his own language. Called Come Back, this is the way Ash Black Bufflo kicks off his debut album, Andasol.
Ash Black Bufflo (or Jay Clarke) comes from Portland, Oregon, that musically-rich magic forest. When you get into the second track, “Misery is the Pilgrim’s Pasture,” you feel that deep woods vibe. Some bizarre tap-dancing percussion and spiraling flute delves into beds of fairy-land aesthetics, ethereal melodies and it keeps getting lighter and lighter until the whole thing implodes into swishing static and some funny breakdown reminiscent of an African drum circle mixed in with horse hoofs clopping on cobblestones and then a hint of crickets before it all shuts down.
And we’re only two tracks in.
The crickets pick back up again on the third track, “Summer Night with Silverware,” and clocks in roughly at one minute. You can visualize some Gaelic fairy goddess flitting through skinny white trees with a garland of forks around her neck, humming some tuneless tune.
Tracks like “Murph the Surf,” have straight up jagged longing laced all throughout, empty, half-washed away footprints on a synthesized beach and “Tulsa Slut,” starts out with feathery whips of weird sound that escalates into galactic bird song of beeping, flashing blender noise.
Clarke not only does Ash Black Bufflo, but plays with three bands; Dolorean, Holy Sons and Grails, “among others.” And then there’s the collaboration he did with director Jeff Malmberg on award-winning documentary Marwencol, not to mention that his music has been included in theater and dance productions all over the globe.
Andasol (translated from Spanish, it means “a walk in the sun”) is basically a vast and elaborate tapestry of Clarke’s original stuff, brought together under the working name of Ash Black Bufflo.
It’s all beds and sound landscapes, surprisingly intricate, handcrafted symphonies slashed through with left-field shockers of distorted found sounds, chilling spoken word and synthed-out trips.
While some other ambient music can leave a listener feeling sketched out like they’ve taken too much MDMA and seen Jesus riding on a dinosaur or something, this particular stuff is actually inviting; it pulls you in, requires that you pay attention, reminds you that there a million trillion atom-sized aspects to sound, and it can all be turned into someone’s version of creative expression, it can all be made into music.