Naturaliste, "Temporary Presence"
Founded as a band in Omaha, Nebraska in 1998, Naturaliste's first release in over 15 years is certainly a drastic departure from the local, improvised shows the group was responsible for. Rather than those frequent, though often dubiously captured recordings, Temporary Presence is not only a highly quality document of fully realized artistry, but also a document of where the band is so many years later.
The band, consisting of Bryan Day, Christopher Fischer, Charles LaReau, and L. Eugene Methe have mostly departed the Midwest, with recordings captured in Omaha, Beijing, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Shanghai brought in by all four artists comprising a significant portion of Temporary Presence. The record's title not only references the nature of these often found/incidental recordings, but also that the remainder of the album was recorded by the quartet within a rented musical instrument shop in Shanghai.
The result is six pieces of music that encompass a bit of everything sonically, from identifiable, played instruments, to abnormal processing, and a bit of unidentifiable field recordings and ambiguous chaos. The piano and oddly pitched bells/chimes on "The Swallows Have Returned" contrast the rattling vibrations and hard to define noises here and there. Combining expansive spaces to chaotic electronics and slightly rhythmic knocking it is certainly dense, but never feels formless or unstructured. "At the Worst of It" is similar in its piano paired with noise, but the voices (and the monstrous treatments to them) makes it a different matter altogether.
The group turns up the creepy factor on "It's Just the Air Conditioner," which minimizes the howling expansive sound and treated guitar that appear. Compared to other pieces on the record the sound is more streamlined overall, and perhaps that focus is what makes it eerie overall. The mood is similar on "Vitals," which is heavily reverberated pulsing electronics. Mixing in a heavily treated guitar (or bass), knocking objects, and what could be an electronic piano here and there, and the sense of mystery borders on malignancy.
One of the characteristics I found most captivating about Temporary Presence is the way Naturaliste combines the use of instruments that were obviously recorded in a group/combo setting with the far more ambiguous processing and recordings done independently. It is an excellent balance of identifiable layers with the mysterious that at times might seem like pure chaos on the surface, but a deeper listen indicates a clearer sense of unity from all four performers.