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Time is absolute garbage. For example, given enough of it, everything you've ever had to say about records will be revealed to be either self-evident or ridiculous, probably both. But here's the thing: given enough time, your friends are going to keep making records, you're going to keep listening to them, and if you're lucky, some of them are going to seep into the cracks of your day-to-day, sun-dappling a few hundred gnarled mornings' back porch decompressions, threading long and weird shadows around a thousand nonspecifically anxious midafternoon cups of tea, or inscribing a luminous circle around the odd red-eyed, couchbound reverie.
Since its initial appearance as a private press double cassette in 2016, Annual Flowers in Color has been exactly this sort of talisman for me. More to the point, it's also the closest thing to a definitive statement in the twelve-year history of John Elliott's Imaginary Softwoods and a no-brainer on the thinking head's shortlist of Elliott's most essential releases, alongside Outer Space's Akashic Record (Events 1986-1990), Emeralds' Solar Bridge and What Happened, Mist's House, Lilypad's Capacitor, Colored Mushroom and the Medicine Rocks' self-titled LP, and Quiet Light Water Gap's Live at the Delaware County VFW Hall.
While each of these projects draws from the same reservoir of glittering pinpoint riffcraft and homespun surrealism and each reflects in its own fashion the awareness that a certain undercurrent of lurid horror is essential to all authentically psychedelic music, Imaginary Softwoods has always been distinguished in its relationship to a particular decades-long chain of private press loner music, or chamber music for shut-ins. You wouldn't necessarily be wrong to call Annual Flowers in Color "deeply personal," but that almost misses the point. It's crucial to this kind of music at its best that it's not premised on any notion of performance, that it's not being made "at" anyone. Rather, it's handmade, human-scale domestic ritual music the making of which is inseparable from the sense in which it's been "lived in." The appreciation of this music is equally a matter of living with and in it, gradually finding your footing somewhere between the microcosm and macrocosm.
Above all, Annual Flowers in Color is an absolutely gorgeous, perfectly weathered, subtly strange record. It's exactly the thing you're thinking of when you think "I want to hear really killer polysynths and tape delay," but it's also much more, glistening with distended reflections of Steves Roach and Stapleton, ringing with simultaneous sublimated echoes of the dorkiest and most expensive French mellotron prog and the most incandescent cheap heat from the $2 exotica bin, and dripping with the "as above, so below" that characterizes synthesizer records at their best. It's both a welcoming point of entry for the unitiated and a sticky, seductive cut deep enough to envelop any heads seeking a way station on the search for the apocryphal second volume of Cosmos Farm Sessions.
Philadelphia, February 2020
released March 25, 2020
Recorded 2011-2015 in Cleveland - Ohio, Tokyo - Japan, and Albuquerque - New Mexico.
Mixed and mastered for cassette and digital by Blue O'Randa at the Gold Manor - Albuquerque, New Mexico, The Fowles Roadhouse, W. 95th Trap & Bird Town - Cleveland, Ohio. Remastered by Josh Eustis - Summer 2019.
Special thanks to Yves Yates, Joshua Eustis and Russell Brill.
Dedicated to The Suncoast Digest.
Vocals on "Positive Ruin Court Garden" by Yuri, recorded 2014 at Hotel Mets, Shibuya - Tokyo, Japan. Mixing assistance and mastering on "Aura Show" by Andrew Veres, January 2014 at The Trap on W. 95th - Cleveland, Ohio. "The Geranium Room" and "Another First/Sea Machine" mixed by Giuseppe Tillieci at Ennislab - Rome, Italy in 2015. All music recorded by Blue O'Randa 2011-2015