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The mystique and beauty of Offering, the 5th record by Bird By Snow, is indebted to a deep sense of place. Recorded and performed entirely by Fletcher Tucker – producer of recent albums by Daniel Higgs and Little Wings. Offering offers up eight completely analog recordings put to tape at various power spots in Big Sur, California – Tucker's homeland. This primordial, majestic and wild landscape is the primary inspiration for the album, and consequently Big Sur emanates from the speakers as the record spins – filling rooms with windswept ridges, fog shrouded mountains, roaring coastline, golden clearings, and shadowy old growth forests. However, this record does not present a simple, picturesque view of nature. As in the wilderness itself, dark and light appear in equal measure – storms rage and fires destroy; there is erosion, decomposition, disease and predation. The wild is vast and powerful, both fantastically destructive and creative.
Received, written, arranged, and performed by Tucker himself, Offering is the first Bird By Snow album to not feature any guest performers or collaborations. With new freedom emerging from the isolated creative process, the album's unique structure features five song-formations with vocals and three ambient dronescapes that range from the pastoral and shamanistic to the doomed and stormy. Opener "World's Returning" signals an entrance into a world removed from modern life but perhaps familiar deep in our ancestral subconscious.
Inspiration for Offering was also found in human stories and doings. Indeed as easily as one may visualize redwoods as the record plays you may also see and hear tools being sharpened, fires being lit, stone walls being built, and ceremony being held. The songs center around our tribal past and possible tribal future, old ritualistic relationships to nature, our potential to be truly at home in the wild, and conversely our will to change it. Offering's centerpiece "My People" draws on these themes and intrigues lyrically, but more so "My People" surprises musically with a subtle groove reminiscent of R&B's "quiet storm" sounding both soulful and elusive. Stylistically, the album continues to deliver the unexpected; the percussion on "Peering Out" coalesces into a subdued head-nodding rhythm that swings with masterful restraint, the minimal arrangements on "Wide Open" and "Grace" get the most out of each melody and word, while the naturalistic ambience of "Black Ocean" and "Before Names" captures the foreboding mystery and tension present in the wild.
Offering sets out to reawaken an ancient consciousness, an ancestral awareness present in the land and in our selves – to give you permission to return to the familiar place, inhabited by our fore-bearers, where myth and magic are primary natural forces. This record was informed by a practical knowledge and daily relationship with the physical wild – knowing the plants and animals, walking the trails and peaks, chopping wood and sowing seeds. And these songs came forth by approaching the non-physical wilderness of Big Sur with the same respect and curiosity – through ritual, rites, and ceremony a mystic backcountry opens.
- Bird By Snow