The first time I heard David Salisbury’s musical project Camp Of Wolves was the album Granite Creek(out in January on Soundtracking The Void.)The music on that album entrances; baroque electronic that whispers melodies through circuits and sound manipulation. Salisbury makes music that sounds of his surroundings, which is the dense forests and intimidating countryside of Vancouver, British Columbia. His music elicits foggy hillsides, quiet walks, and an eeriness just under the surface.
On his latest Salisbury doubles down on the darkness, melancholy, and otherworldly melodies. Green Timbers is haunting and beautiful. It’s the kind of album that transports the listener to the world in which the music was inspired by. I found myself moved deeply by this album.
The album was inspired by the place Salisbury called home as a child. Green Timbers was the name of a small park and lake where Salisbury grew up. A quaint place for families to come together and enjoy a summer day or weekend evening, forged and formed by pioneers lifetimes before. The pain of a few for the enjoyment of many for years to come. Civilization carved out of centuries of dark desolation and quiet slumber. According to Salisbury, “People pushed into the lawless wet wilderness where disappearances and tragedies were commonplace. Life was rough and trauma has a way of rippling through time, over the years the settlement would grow in infamy as social problems wove themselves into the very fabric of the blue collar community.”
Regardless of how trimmed and tamed you think it may be, Green Timbers still carries with it the darkness it held so preciously for all those decades. The ghosts remain. They’re just keeping a low profile.
This album is a walkabout of sorts through the area called Green Timbers. Moments of eerie chills, nostalgic longing, and deep melancholy that feel like both period drama and psychological horror emanate throughout. Songs like “A Beach Below The Bridge” and “Severe Weather and Extreme Ways” paint a both idyllic and haunted place. Sadness and darkness wrapped in summer laughs and outdoor activities. One of the more lilting pieces is the gorgeous “Fire On The Water, Smoke In The Sky”. It envelopes you like morning sunlight; a feeling of both peace and distant dread. Like feeling at ease but knowing there is something to fear, though you can’t recollect what.
“Strange Family” chills with it’s quirky demeanor and almost Giallo-esque mood. You can almost picture these bizarre creatures exiting a family van for a day of beach fun and awkward glances. And songs like “On A Hand-Drawn Map”, “Sunken Grave At Old Scow”, and “In The Fog At Brownsville” feel like chapters to the darkest Nancy Drew book you’ve ever read, illiciting both a blood-red mood and operatic melodrama with its synthetic orchestral sound.
“We Kept A Monster In A Box” closes our journey to Green Timbers. There’s remorse in the music box tinkling and wavering string-like tones. It’s almost as if it’s telling us “I told you. You didn’t listen.”
Creating civilization in places it shouldn’t exist is how we do things. Build a freeway in a wetland? Sure, just suck it dry for two years then build the road and the McDonalds. Still, you can remove the muck and greenery but something remains. Something from that primordial wild. It’s angry for what we’ve done.
Camp Of Wolves Green Timbers tells a very similar tale. The music gives us both the beauty of the lake and park and the great times had there; as well as the darkness that still remains from the violence committed in order to create that beauty. This is a stunning bit of music, and one I won’t forget any time soon.
8.5 out of 10
‘Green Timbers’ is out now via Waxing Crescent Records. Buy it here.