Nate Wooley & Columbia Icefield
Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes
The ghosts of Arctic explorers haunt this album. The men who went searching for the Northwest Passage through the Arctic set off into an icy unknown with often tragic results. Many of those sailors ended up trapped in ice for years, and few made it home alive.
Trumpeter Nate Wooley was inspired by the Arctic explorers, and Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes reflects the cold and lonely world they sailed into. The three movements, “I Am the Sea that Sings of Dust,” “A Catastrophic Legend,” and “Returning to Drown Myself, Finally,” are stark, moody pieces. Wooley’s horn sounds like the laments of lost souls. Guitarists Mary Halvorson and Susan Alcorn do a great job creating abstract sounds to bring the feeling of the ice floes to bear. Between the movements, there are field recordings of wind and waves to accentuate the cold and loneliness of the compositions.
To me, Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes is a ghost story told in sound. I think of those sailors who died in horrible ways in the Arctic. If only they had taken help from the native Inuit… but Westerners know better than natives.