What does Green-House sound like?
Utopian synth work that has an innate longing for something bigger.
The review of Green-House – A Host for All Kinds of Life
Olive Ardizoni and Michael Flanagan are the creatives behind Green-House, an environmental music project with quite a few things to say. The idea behind this kaleidoscope of sound and synths is to look at our planet and embrace the joy within it. The duo speak of “solastalgia”. It is the longing and distress experienced by individuals as a response to environmental change or degradation. Often, it can seem overwhelming and Olive says she wants to use joy as an act of rebellion – focusing on the good that the planet brings. Joy as anarchy is a fascinating concept and with that, this new album was born.
Every song is a utopian microcosm. ‘Lichen Maps’ uses breath, warm Ondes-like synths, dulcimer-style percussive plucks and the gentle rustle of leaves and paper as if the world is slowing turn in its slumber. ‘Coquina’ uses flutes and sunsetting waves of synths to gently coax the listener into a magical world of wonder. Nothing sounds ominous. Everything sounds like luxury and abundance – rich with life and rounded with edges. By the time we reach the globules of muddied electric piano with ‘Desire Path’, I feel like my ears have been dipped in honey. Green-House has honed in on making every sound sound rich and full fat, as a listener I wanted to swim in each track. ‘Castle Song’ personifies this beautifully. The tuned percussion mixed with playful and slightly clumsy waltzing of the keyboards reminds me of Michiru Ōshima’s Ico soundtrack.
Game music comes to mind quite often across the album. ‘Far More Other’ has a whimsical slice-of-life quality from most RPG town themes or the incidental qualities of a Joe Hisashi Ghibli soundtrack. ‘Luna Clipper’ takes us to the sea with birds, waves and wind as the backdrop for a curious twinkling keyboard melody. The way the song opens up from humble beginnings into a luscious synth opera out into the beyond is a beautiful transition too. Theremin for the soul should be the song’s tagline! The title track then effortlessly whips up all the magic of the album into a nostalgic and majestic ballad. The piano, electric piano and synths wrap around each other like the species of the Earth. Each completes part of the overarching melody and theme and to me, it sounded like an audio comment on how each instrument, like each species, should learn to co-exist and support each other.
Green-House then brings us back down to Earth with the rainy and organ-drenched ‘Everything Is Okay’. After lots of high-flying, this sound sounds like coming home to a cosy chair and embracing the smaller things in life. Again, I’m reminded of village and town themes from game music as a parallel sound and that high art rounds up the album with ‘Many Years Later’. This glassy percussion piece sounds like it’s playing a glockenspiel, piano and theremin through a gramophone. The tone is upbeat, sleepy and homely – like Grandma’s home-cooked meal.
Part of my enjoyment of this album comes from knowing the ecological context in which it was made. So often, dystopian end-of-world disasters are where our headspace goes. This album is positive. We get the good ending. We make the change. All the tracks before the final three feel like listening closely to different parts of our natural world before we take the plunge to make that change. It’s good for the spirit to have something like this from Green-House to inspire joy and remember that all isn’t lost until it’s truly over. This album warms the heart and soul and anyone who loved synth first ambient music or town and village songs from game soundtracks will love this.
Recommended track: Castle Song
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