M. Sage “The Wind of Things”

This is the original frontier. Everything shiny and new, overtly processed and overstated is stripped away as Matthew Sage fabricates a new home out of sodden dirt, thunder cracks, and flowing rivers with a gentle wind at his back. The Wind of Things is on the opposite side of the sphere from his previous album on Geographic North, Catch a Blessing. Everything here is organic and from the vine, carefully harvested and played in precise aural patterns, a portrait of days past and brighter futures.

Among the numerous things that makes The Wind of Things great is the cast of many of his long-time collaborators Sage has assembled (and wonderfully dubbed ‘The Spinnaker Ensemble’) like Patrick Shiroishi, Allison Sheldon, Matt Wenzel, and so many others. Lonesome violin layers lament on “Luffing Adrift” and loop lazily in the air, intertwining within themselves as languid guitar chords are plucked with tender grace. Each piece complements the next, building toward a rush of emotion that comes on the dense, watery “Sail-Shaped Light.” Together the two pieces stop time and hang like hazy memories, brushed away at the last minute before the melancholy sets in. It takes me away to a place I’ve never been that feels intimately familiar at the same time.

Textures come in waves, like endless rows of gently-used objects, neatly compiled but each individual piece unique. Together this dense, sometimes fragile array of sound comes together in new, enchanting ways. As “Cloud Plexus” opens the album, moving like a raft on a lazy river, voices wordlessly singing to the sky, you stop and listen closely. Immediately you are enveloped in Sage’s organic sound world, looking out over distant sonic vistas. The pace throughout The Wind of Things moves at just the right speed, tracks like the hopeful “Harbor Dive” and pensive “Tell Tail Tale” holding back and pushing forward to bend your mood. So much care has been put into the sequencing that everything unfolds like a life story you’ve never heard, but with which you find an instant connection.

Matthew Sage – through his work with the quartet with Patrick Shiroishi, Chris Jussell, and Chaz Prymek (all of which appear on The Wind of Things), his cached.media project, and his own own work – has been a quiet fixture during my past year. Through his work and his spirit, he effuses a sense of calm determination to make the world around him better and it’s something you can feel throughout The Wind of Things. Sage looks out on this world and brings so many disparate pieces together, molding them into something greater, something beautiful. It’s a triumph for an artist who has had many over the past little while, but in the end The Wind of Things sits at the top.