Arrowounds is the solo project of Texas artist Ryan Chamberlin. His new release, Book of Endangered Species, out now on Histamine Tapes, is quite the heavy statement. His previous work trades in post-rock/shoegaze territory, but this release veers toward ambient drone and field recordings. This is not just a reverb and echo laden headphone trip – though there is nothing wrong with those, of course – but an artist using his skill to push back, or as Arrowounds puts it:
“…reflects sorrow and concern over the continuing destruction of our natural world. It is a journey through various landscapes, real or imagined…possibly in a future where no such natural beauty exists anymore. Pollution, greed, neglect, and a denial of science by those in power have cast a shadow upon our environment. These songs serve as a conduit to bring the listener back to the purest elements in our surroundings, to be aware and receptive to the sights and sounds around you, while the noise of human “progress” fades into the distance.“
This tape is part of the ever-evolving Histamine Tape tradition of reclaimed and repurposed artwork and cassette tapes. For this release, the nearly 90 minute-long behemoth is paired with cards hand cut from black scrap booking paper, and a book of Anne Geddis photography. Each cassette comes with multiple inserts, allowing the buyer to create their own cover. Each cassette has unique album art. The rotating cover art is a nice addition and shows the creativity put into each new album.
Crisp chords ring out and fade out over the horizon, and synths swell up and expand across the left and right channels. Reflective and somber, but with a hint of optimism fitting of the subject matter, reminiscent of long-form pieces of space music with echoes of the synth-heavy tracks on black metal albums. Though at times deliberately lo-fi, it is still the audio equivalent of an IMAX panoramic view of tranquil fjords and other habitats humans rarely tread.
Filtered tape loops mimic the rhythm of snow or rainfall on a cold day and are drowned out by full spectrum pads perfect for a solitary walk. Field recordings of waterfalls, footsteps, and birds bring you into the world that is being threatened. The dynamics mirror the feeling when hiking along a trail miles away from civilization, when the pulse of the environment gets your full attention. It’s quieter than you expect but still a bit chaotic, and subconsciously makes sense. This is a deep listen with a strong message and shows there can be a brighter future.
– Jeff Brown