Graintable – Universal Ash

Posted by Fabio 12 July 2019

Portland producer James Cooke aka Graintable makes a much-anticipated return to Ransom Note Records with his second album Universal Ash. Released on digital and limited edition cassette, the follow-up to 2018’s Herons is an overwhelming experience that builds on its predecessor’s mind-altering ambient odysseys while casting its stylistic horizons even further.

Recorded in a series of one-take hardware jams, the album speaks to the liberating creative power of chasing an idea with little thought as to where it might take you. As ever, Graintable’s mastery lies in his instinctive understanding of the relationship between melody, texture and emotion.

While best enjoyed front to back, Universal Ash is home to a number of Graintable’s most singular and affecting compositions to date. The glacial synths of ‘For Charlie’ trace a plaintive elegy for a beloved pet, while the Boards of Canada-esque title track sounds like the first sighting of cherry blossom on an uncommonly warm March morning. The album draws to a close with the hymnal pulse of ‘No Longer a Fragment’, as the synths dissolve away, the crickets continue to chirp, and the whole cycle begins again.

Buy digital album and limited edition cassette here