Let’s do a word association, shall we? I’ll say a word and you say what comes to mind. Ready?
What did you come up with? Mountains, Broncos, beer, marijuana? I bet that would cover most outside impressions of Colorado. Until very recently, those would sum up most of what I know about Colorado too. But from now on, we’ll need to add earthy dub music to the list.
In the middle of the excellent rectangle that we call Colorado, a man by the name Curtis Humphrey, a.k.a. Kalpataru Tree, produces such music. The backbone of his art is strong bass lines, hence the dub label. Beyond that, each track from Kalpataru Tree features layers of organic and synthetic sound.
If we examine the title track from his 2010 album All Things Passing, we find that even before the bass kicks in, he sets the soundscape with crickets, toads, and birds squawking and flapping in the distance; all very natural sounds. Then he hits us with a didgeridoo. I don’t know about you guys, but I love the sound of a didgeridoo. Hearing it feels completely terrestrial and totally alien at the same time. Then comes the bass line. It grooves hard and smooth, while electric tweaks, ticks, and knocks fill the space around it. The further we go, we find Mr. Humphrey enhances these elements with delays, filters, and repetitions. About halfway through this 8-minute track, most of these pieces drop out to make room for an electric guitar. From there, the track continues to change and evolve, just as the name — “All Things Passing” — implies it should. It’s an engrossing track and represents the music of Kalpataru Tree well.
All except for one ubiquitous aspect. Have a look at the album’s cover art. You’ll find a forest of neon fractals. Such an image evokes an aura of psychedelia and experiential complexity. In sound, Kalpataru Tree accomplishes this with extraordinary instrumentation, keen manipulation, and raw, resonant vibration.
Kalpataru Tree – “All Things Passing”
All Things Passing download page