Core of the Coalman “Lines”

This is an astonishing, massive release. Jorge Boehringer’s Core of the Coalman project has been on my radar for well over 10 years now, but even with that familiarity, I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming nature of Lines. Two hours of music spread across four discs of vibrating sustenance; viola, voice, harmonica, and more become an all-encompassing world. Boehringer condenses a lifetime of memories into 12 solid stretches. It’s an incredible feat.

Each of these aural lines is an invitation to investigate; to situate ourselves within a place, whether physical or otherwise and let our minds drift forward into unexpected places. Certain moments, like “Fracture” and “Fossil” rise ever upward like a cascading presence saturating the sky. Extended drones breathe, alive in the cool air and imbued with purpose, yet light to the touch. “Fossil” laments a furtive cadence buried under droning silhouettes, each string taut and ready to break open if someone gives the signal. Boehringer stays in that pensive moment, though, letting harmonic distillations grow into full bloom, glistening with electronics and echoes.

Even in the jagged edges of “Bleeder,” where feedback paints sonic massacres across a flowing bed of gentle strings. The dichotomy is poignant, almost wistful. The discordant shards are overcome by the sinuous melody rising through the desolate layers and blanketing the piece in a stoic calm. There’s further harshness in “Overgrown” where a thicket of distorted tones presses on with a funereal resolve. Minor chords become paeans to the past even as they are dragged ahead by unknown forces.

In the warmth of closer “Miner,” Boehringer brings Lines to an impassive end. Over the previous four discs, histories were written and forgotten; time stood still. “Miner” is at the mountaintop looking backward, billowing viola drones ringing like a monolithic beacon. Lines is music not simply pulled from the landscape but of the landscape itself. These outstretched exultations and sorrows permeate every building block as the world shapes and shifts over time. It’s a massive undertaking. There is so much to digest on Lines that I’ll be returning to its alluring expanse for years and years to come. Unforgettable.

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