Earlier this year, my friends at Aquarius Records informed me of a beautiful and strangely-packaged LP called Atwater by an artist I'd never heard of, Clint Heidorn. The hand-stained black record sleeve had a cross made from actual branches glued to it. No, the music wasn't black metal but rather stunning, minimalist, folk-drone doused with ambient field recordings and ghostly shimmers. Now, less than 6 months later, I've received the magnificent follow-up to Atwater. Titled "+33° 58' 41.85", -117° 49' 13.74" (The Oak Tree)," this recording arrived in the form of a hand-stained and screened wooden box with a black and white image of a tree encased in the lid. Inside the box were six photo prints, a small pile of oak leaves, and a canvas bag containing an audio cassette of the music — Heidorn's hazy, guitar-based ambience (with haunting vocals and some woodwinds?) on side A and, on side B, a field recording taken beside the tree that inspired this project.
The tree, Heidorn says, "is near my childhood home in suburban Los Angeles County, where I spent much of my youth dreaming. As time passes, as I get older and more nostalgic for a time before the creeping cynicism of adult life, I've come to think of that oak tree as the best possible location to have my ashes spread: The place where the world opened up, before I knew how easily it could close. It's a wish to go back to a simpler time, and reconnect with the sense of possibility and mystery that is a hallmark of childhood."
The Oak Tree is available in several limited editions, from the $20 wooden box that I received to a $5 silkscreened cardboard sleeve to an edition of four that Heidorn buried in unusual Southern California locations. Based on directions to those spots, three of the packages have already been retrieved. If you can find the last one, it's free. You could also just download the digital album for $1 from Bandcamp, but, well… I've been carrying around the wooden box for a month sharing it with anyone who will listen to the story of this wonderful objet d′art.