Ned Milligan “Enter Outside”

Florabelle’s Ned Milligan has always made music that calms me. He has a deft control over tonal balance, always finding gentle combinations that surprise with their heavy impact. With his latest meditation, Enter Outside, he adds singing bowl to his usual tools, chimes and cassette tape. Recorded outdoors on a rural porch in Maine, this is a lovely, immersive listening experience. Milligan has an innate skill of utilizing natural sounds and field recordings as an equal collaborator and Enter Outside is another prime example.

The night sounds of “Pulling Out of the Driveway at Dusk” are captivating. Immediately as the insect chorus beckons, I am transported outside. The timbre of chimes bounces off the droning chirps, each note hanging in the humid air like a suspended water droplet hoping to find the comfort of the ground. Sonically, “Pulling Out of the Driveway at Dusk” feels light, but there’s an emotional heft that brings it down into the dark, rich soil. Each note is a reminder of a forgotten memory, suppressed and lost to the grind of daily life. Peaceful as the piece might be, it’s another remembrance sacrificed to keep moving forward.

I am always taken with the patience in Milligan’s work and Enter Outside is no exception. On the side-long “Grace Arrives,” we find balance and a path forward. Journeys can be short or last forever, but in the storm-laden clang and gorgeous, understated drones they are the only thing that matters. Enter Outside is a beautiful document and a world I want to get lost in.

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