I remember hearing Ned Milligan’s 2017 album, Nature Always Needs Improving, for the first time and being immediately taken in by its gentle resonance and luminous tonal spaces. Plenty of artists do great work with field recordings and making music outdoors, but there’s a certain intimacy to Milligan’s work that deeply connects with me. His use of chimes continually surprises me, but it’s a perfect medium for his introspective work. Last year’s Enter Outside continued this trajectory.
He has a new EP out now on The Jewel Garden, Emotional Yardwork, that trades chimes for a ‘hand drum,’ but the impact remains the same. On this mix, Milligan collects a series of pieces that walk similar paths as his own work. In his own words:
As someone who spends a fair amount of time recording outdoors–not just collecting field recordings there, but also performing there (if you’ll allow a generous use of the word “performing”)–I wanted to focus on gathering tracks here that feature artists doing the same. In figuring out what could make the cut, there were some pieces that came to mind immediately, while others left me feeling more uncertain about their origins or processes. I decided to include some of these because in the end, of course, subjecting music to an artificial purity test isn’t that interesting. My understanding is that they all fit the framework, so that’s nice. But more importantly, I think there’s an approach to sound and composition acting as a throughline here; an active invitation to collaborate extended to any variety of elements beyond our control.
Philip Corner- Gong/Ear (1990)
Treetops- At the Edge of the Sky (2008)
La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela- Oceans aborted session for a 1969 CBS LP
Bill Fontana- Kirribilli Wharf (1978)
Nicholas Langley- Dandelion & Washing Line (2021)
Asuna + Tomoyoshi Date + Federico Durand- On the shore of the stray pond (2020)
Kazuya Matsumoto- 落ちる散る満ちる (2017)
Ned Milligan- Empty Urns (2019)
Shuta Hikari- Across the Empty Lot 1 (2019)
FUJI||||||||||TA- kofu, 26 sep (2011)