Josh Mason’s Breeze Dialogues

On his new release, Recreación, he returns to the beach. Listen to it, read my review, and a brief interview below.

Josh Mason and I go way back. I honestly don’t remember how or when we first met, but over the past decade plus, he’s been a fixture for me. Even in the intervening wilderness between 2015 and last year, Josh and I stayed in touch, though it was sparse at times. When I finished The Jewel Garden, he was the first person I sent it to. He’s a kindred spirit in so many ways and his music and art have meant a lot to me through the years. With that, I am thrilled to help announce the release of his latest work, Recreación Segura.

We don’t pick favorite children in this house (okay we do, but we only have one kid), but I also try not to pick favorites from the Digitalis catalog, either. That being said, Josh Mason’s Timecode Beach is an album that has stuck with me year-after-year, finding its way deep into my psyche. Mason is a master of restraint in his work, letting moments go at the exact right time as things languidly progress and find fuel in contemplation. Where Timecode Beach depicted a specific time and place with a rough edge, Mason’s return to the beach with Recreación Segura is less opaque and more refined.

I find myself floating through the aural spaces Mason creates on Recreación Segura, finding solace on the drift. Warm guitar tones dance with hiss and static, a remnant of the past propelling us to future possibilities. Endless atmosphere adheres to you at every turn, stretching the sand outward and filling every crevice in sight. Solemnity tries creeping in – finds a little footing here and there – but ultimately is in the margins as Mason weaves in light, finding weightlessness and freedom in the process. 

With its distant connection to Timecode BeachRecreación Segura is like an old, familiar friend you haven’t seen in years. Despite how much has changed in the intervening space, there is an instant, deep connection that cannot be broken. This is a balm for my aching bones right now, reminding all of us that despite the heaviness, despite the darkness there are brighter days ahead filled with sunlight and mirth.


I needed to eat breakfast,
And I needed to get home—
Except I can’t actually go home
Anymore.

It’s all been carried away,
And the voice of mind trembles
Upon recital of this certitude.

And so I find myself
Itinerant and uncertain; a foreign body.
An Idiot, combing a new coast
For shards of that old one
That may have washed ashore,
No matter how woolly
Salt and separation have left them to be.

But back in the city,
Accounts of the hour
Jitter and diverge:
Big Jim bellows,
Signaling St. John’s to toll,
And when a plastic wristwatch chimes
It occurs to me, and only then,
That this new dialect—
Does actually have
A familiar cadence.


recorded, mixed, mastered and photographed
duval county, florida
summer-winter, 2020


Interview

What have you missed most in the past year?

To be perfectly honest, its the incidental things of the day-to-day I miss the most. Our lives are so scripted already anymore, and with the way things are now, it is literally impossible to happen upon anything by chance.

How are you finding peace and solace with everything that’s happening?

I suppose the first thing I want to clarify here is, Recreación in no way a “coping with a pandemic” recording. I would have made and investigated these ideas even if things were “normal.” Generally speaking, I try to avoid all the things and places that give my home a bad rap, so when I say that I have found a remote beach to escape to, these are the things I am getting away from. There is an idyllic Florida still, and even if it’s only in my mind, I continue to search it out regardless of the state of everything else surrounding it.

That said, I definitely hit a personal wall at the end of last year and I made a very conscious decision to defeat the scroll and to stay off of computers as much as I could. That alone has made me feel more peaceful, and now I spend a lot more of my time practicing mindfulness and exploring the complexity of my own existence, which is heavy enough in and of itself, without being crushed under the juggernaut of other’s manifold ideas on…whatever, blasting from every platform.

What is the idyllic Florida for you?

That actually is somewhat hard to nail down, and I think some of that has to do with notions of the idyllic often being intertwined with the edenic, but it’s also tough because it’s a bit of a moving target the older I get and the more complicated I realize things to be… plus, what is picturesque for a few is often that way to the detriment of many, which isn’t lost on me either. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t daydream about setting golf courses on fire with the hopes that that will get us where I want to be…the vibe of what this place was, before technology and development dropped huge changes in our laps, both ecologically and economically. Sleepy surf-side towns where Cortazar’s time, the time that dogs us, that convinces us there is a pace to be kept, rusts to a stop. It’s not a bygone thing I pine for so much as it is something that I try and will into being amidst all the things that stress me out about Florida’s modernity. I’m often reminded of words by Matt Coplon (from Reversal Of Man) regarding the somewhat tangential, but conceptually relevant, topic of community: “Thank you for this time to be without location, and name.”

How does Recreación relate to Timecode Beach?

I guess if you looked at the whole of my output as a long, linear moving picture of unknown duration, Timecode was a capture device; a freeze-frame that allowed me to stop and evaluate a scene at a specific marker and make sense of what was there. Recreación is a similar capture device, but perhaps with a little better resolution, and it’s being applied to the part of the narrative you’d find if you were to fast-forward in time, building on what was already discovered previously in the recorded evidence.

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