Release date: 30th September 2010
CD and Digital
THIS RELEASE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE FROM THE BOLTFISH CATALOGUE ON CD. HOWEVER, YOU CAN STILL PURCHASE IT DIRECTLY FROM THE ARTIST VIA DIGITAL DOWNLOAD AND LIMITED CD, AND FROM A RANGE OF ONLINE RETAILERS.
"Every symphonic piece on this beautifully laid out digipak is filled with an influx of majestic elements; even the artwork graciously unveils layers of natural wonder and awe."
"a seriously impressive debut"
All tracks © Skytree/Boltfish Recordings 2010
Hyphae is Skytree’s debut CD album and his first release on Boltfish Recordings. The album’s title is a reference to the micro-filaments of a fungal mat, which allow trees and other plants to absorb nutrients and minerals from the soil that would otherwise be unavailable. Musically, this is a symbol of the details giving rise to the whole, and of the unseen unity in all things, especially in life. The album is very much inspired by fungus, both in an academic sense and in the shamanic, psilocybin-induced sense.
The whole album is filled with sounds the artist recorded himself out in the woods, over the course of the past year. Each track has a subtle field recording layered beneath the mix, to evoke a specific sense of place. Lake Language contains samples of breaking ice and waves filling in the crunchy beatwork, which is layered with a warm liquid bassline and chopped acoustic instrumental melodies and textures. Blue Verve Vein (named for the artist’s favourite flower blue vervain) lays acoustic and electric guitars and vocals samples over jolting distorted drum patterns. Ice Age Trail begins with the sound of leopard seals, recorded in Antartica, and goes on to mix clipped beats with writhing synths and the organic tones of dulcimer and penny whistle. Stomata Spirit sources all of its melodic elements from an autoharp, its glitchy edits balanced against complex stuttering drum machine rhythms. Morel uses woodpecker sounds as the texture for the beat, and a loon call as the inspiration for the melody.
Scattered amongst these beat-based organic electronica tracks are a collection of beatless ambient pieces which seamlessly blend acoustic and synthetic textures into gorgeously evocative cinematic soundscapes, featuring the artist’s own voice for the first time, processed in various ways. The album also includes specially commissioned remixes by Mrs Jynx (Planet Mu) and Coppice Halifax (aka Milieu).
"Minnesota-based producer / multi-instrumentalist Evan Snyder has spent the last ten years making electronic music, debuting his Skytree alias back in 2003 before going on to release three download-only albums on netlabels including Earstroke and Herb Recordings. This fourth album on Boltfish ‘Hyphae’ offers up Snyder’s debut physical CD release and sees him crafting a jawdropping collection of downbeat leftfield electronics that manages to be as equally exqusitely detailed as it is deeply emotionally moving. Indeed, the sleeve art depicting hand-drawn tendrils (perhaps the fungal hyphae of the title) extended over photographs over the sky at dusk prove to be a perfect metaphor for the atmosphere that’s generated here, and while there’s certainly some headspinningly intricate digital trickery going on here, it’s the integration of sampled natural sounds and acoustic instrumentation that really grounds this collection thematically.
Opening track ‘Lake Language’ certainly evokes the aforementioned dusk skies as it slowly unfurls itself over phasing, dreamlike ambient drones, only for contorted, crunching hiphop rhythms to lock down amidst a lush backdrop of swooning textures that takes in the sampled sounds of ocean waves and ice cracking, the resulting atmosphere sitting somewhere between Amon Tobin and the wide-eyed pastoral aesthetic of Kelpe. Indeed, there’s a sense of nature never really being too far from the surface conjured throughout these eleven tracks – while ‘Ice Age Trail’ sees the sampled rumble of Antarctic leopard sounds giving way to a swelling backdrop of bass-heavy analogue synths, clattering boom-bap rhythms, plucked acoustic guitar and penny whistle, ‘Morel’ sees the eerie sampled birdcall of a loon being re-shaped into the track’s melodic base as stuttering, broken rhythms crafted from woodpecker sounds add a treacherously unpredictable undercurrent to the twisted-up keyboard melodies that play above. In this case, the two additional remixes included here from Coppice Halifax and Planet Mu’s Mrs Jynx prove to be no less impressive, with the former offering up this collection’s lone concession to more club-focused rhythms with a distinctly more pulsating take on the originally more ambient-centred ‘Hearth.’ ‘Hyphae’ represents a seriously impressive debut on CD for Skytree, as well what’s easily one of the most captivating takes on the downbeat leftfield electronic genre I’ve heard in the past year. Brilliant stuff. "
(Translated from original Russian Review)
".. this album is interesting by the very original alloy of contemporary sounds and folklore beginnings, and also by Snyder's masterful use of numerous instruments (guitar, flute, harp, cymbals and so forth)"
"Skytree creates vast soundscapes begging to be explored. With the fourth LP, Hyphae, Skytree is perfecting the craft of pure ambience and you simply cannot help but imagine an open vista as you listen to the album. As a whole, Hyphae feels organic, as if it was something to be stumbled upon in nature. Bubbling percussive outbursts combined with multiple textures creates for a full feeling as Hyphae unfolds. Every symphonic piece on this beautifully laid out digipak is filled with an influx of majestic elements; even the artwork graciously unveils layers of natural wonder and awe.
"Morel" starts off sampling a bird's song and transitions gracefully into a quick punching drum machine. Twittering birds are slowly brought in and out of the song to keep pace. "Ice Age Trail" is compact and to the point; its ephemeral nature lends itself to be desired even further. Plucking guitars drive songs at just the correct time to keep things interesting. Skytree is at his prime when you arrive upon "Chequamegon." Off on the horizon, gentle plucking is contrasted with a burning synth to create a game of tug of war. The struggle is further encapsulated with the echoing of a howling animal to close the song. Two remixes are added at the end of the album and at the risk of sounding cliche, they do not live up to the standard Skytree has previously set forth. Mrs. Jynx does set the tone correctly and captures a haunting sound, however, it only slightly elevates the original, and after the first few minutes it aspires to be further developed. That being said, Mrs. Jynx does manage to leave a lasting impression. Coppice Halifax's closing Milkwhite Rebuild remix of "Hearth" delivers a calming atmospheric drift as it deconstructs with a constant back beat weaving its way through until it spirals to a graceful end.
Seamless is the perfect word to sum up this triumphant release for Boltfish Recordings. From start to finish, intricate organic blending moves the listener on a vast journey. It isn't until the record closes that you realize thirteen songs have just floated by ever so gently. Taking the listener on a pleasant trip through time and space, Skytree effortlessly derails preconceived IDM formulas and instead offers a fluid and instrumental approach that is encapsulating and fulfilling."
Cokemachineglow - rating 78%
Read the whole review
"The record he’s returned with is the kind of album you’d hope to find packed in your storm tent, particularly if you were without company and wanted something cinematic on standby (try "North Shore Cecropia" and its Apocalypse Now opening, Vietnam replaced with stellar fog). Even the remixes at the end touch on what you’d want to hear if you were alone in the wilds—affirming bleeps, natural reed organs, but with sufficient machines to remind you that "human beings made this." A lot of it you’ll wish you could erase it from your head and rediscover for the first time on a beach; a lot of it you’ll realise is so strangely versatile the beach could be anywhere you want it. Just don’t let it come on at random, particularly if you’re crawling around a loft at the time and "Rise Ohmic Colony" starts. You’ll be convinced you’ve got mice in your rock wool. "
"Given that many of the sounds used on this CD were recorded by the artist in woodland areas I guess it's probably more than fair to describe it as 'organic, melodic electronica'. As you might expect from that description it inevitably brings thoughts of early Four Tet to mind but that only tells a part of the story as the percussion tends more towards an energetic live sound than that (probably slightly lazy) comparison might lead you to believe and the album's also peppered with moments of pure ambience to add further variety. Nonetheless, there's a lovely, warm feel to the entire enterprise that I'm sure will sit very nicely with anyone hankering for earlier folktronic times and the production skill on show is never in any doubt whatsoever."
"Skytree c'est Evan Snyder, multi-instrumentiste médiocre selon ses propres mots utilisant Ableton depuis la fin de l'adolescence. Originaire du Minnesota, il semble avoir toujours été sensible à son environnement direct. Il a signé des titres pour des maisons majeures comme Tympanik ou la regrettée Benbecula, un Ep pour Earstroke et un LP sur Herb recordings. Hyphae sort dans deux jours, le toujours enivrant label Boltfish se fait un plaisir d'en livrer la primeur.
L'hyphae (hyphe en français) est la longue structure filamenteuse d'un champignon. C'est aussi le principal mode de croissance végétative de ces derniers (merci wikipédia). On peut pourtant faire des liens bien réels avec cette appellation saugrenue. En effet, la musique de Skytree, proche du folktronica, nous transporte à différents endroits du monde, témoignant des lentes mutations de dame nature (Stomata Spirit ou le lumineux ambient/piano de North Shore Cecropia). C'est d'ailleurs en plein coeur de celle-ci qu'il est allé capturer somme de field recordings et de sonorités élémentaires. Joliment psychédélique, son electronica fortement organique se joue des textures, basculant avec une désarmante simplicité de l'acoustique au synthétique. Des oeuvres plus courtes figurent, installant parfaitement la transition entre deux lieus sans pour autant faire figure de simples interludes (Indigo Valley, Clark Reservoir, Hearth). Même quand il saisit une flûte de pan (comme sur le dernier cité), un djembé (Ice Age Trail), une cyhthare (Chequamegon) ou une flûte irlandaise (Clark Reservoir), instruments qui aurait pu très mal se greffer, on ne sombre pas dans une convenue démarche baba-cool revival. Pour ce qui est de la rythmique des beats, il remet une copie tout à fait honorable et maîtrisée. Le très joli Morel, où les hululements de chasseurs nocturnes vivent en harmonie avec de plus petites oiseaux férus de nectar, en est le parfait exemple. On regrettera simplement que les deux remixes ajoutés en conclusion n'apportent pas grand chose à l'ensemble de l'oeuvre.
Voilà un bien joli disque qui devrait ravir les inspirés adorateurs des productions estampillées Boltfish. Evan Snyder a tout l'air du brave type, fervent défenseur de la nature et des synthés vintage, qui dédie son premier album à sa mère et à son frère disparus lors de sa conception."