Noontide by Micah Frank
Noontide is a product of the now; “The entire thing,” Frank explains, “was composed during the coronavirus quarantine months of March and April” in New York City. “I think the pacing of the pieces was very much determined by the uncertainty and social inactivity of that period.”
“A Plume Apart,” the opening track, sets the emotional and aesthetic mood; motion comes in slow waves, timbres expand horizontally while the shape both rises and drops. One gesture moves in place of another, emptying the stage of the imagination for something expansive to arrive. The pace is slow but always flowing.
Biting, tangy sounds rub and sway against each other in “An Orbit Unfolds,” while chords slide across the landscape of “Needle at the Bottom of the Sea.” Noontide is Frank’s contemplation of locked-down moments that seemed, for everyone, to lead to nowhere.
The album was realized mostly through physical, analog means. Software use was minimal, nothing other than EQ and compression, and some of the music was “printed to tape,” Frank notes. The warm, palpable sounds come from an Oberheim Xpander and a Make Noise Shared System, often working in tandem across generative synth patches. Frank built the tracks out of small segments that balance between repetition and change.
“Some tracks have simple motifs,” Frank explains, “while others are more ambient beds or electronic experimental.” That experimental sense runs throughout, but it’s not about musical form as much as it is about stasis and uncertainty. Uncertainty and social inactivity became, for so many, an experiment in living, in finding what figurative and literal internal life might be like with society as a whole mostly shut down. The question for Frank was less “What might music sound like?” than “What might life feel like?”.
Noontide suggests that life might feel like the sound of the past time-warped into the present. The unmistakable, evocative sounds of the Xpander, and the hardware-based generative means, evoke the classic production of John Carpenter and Vangelis’s early soundtracks.
Frank hopes that Noontide “provides an abstract but cohesive experience that takes the listener on a bit of an adventure.” The simplest, shortest lone journey can be an adventure, especially in a time when it’s not even clear where you can go, and what the world might look like next month, or even tomorrow. Noontide is a guide from the past into the future.
All tracks written, produced and performed by Micah Frank
Artwork by John Whitlock
Mastered by Taylor Deupree at 12k
Copy by George Grella