Arthur King is an art collective led by multimedia artist Peter Walker. He runs AK Studio and assembles musicians, sculptors, designers, and filmmakers to collaborate on various projects. It’s the kind of collective any artist dreams to be able to work within; sharing their skills, knowledge, and imagination with other like-minded creative types.
One of the musical aspects of Arthur King is the Changing Landscapes series, where “Walker and collaborators to set up camp in a particular locale, observing and collecting sounds and ideas to be reprocessed through creative reinterpretations of those locales––whether the Scottish Isle of Eigg, an Iowa farm, or a copper mine in Chile.”
In the case of that Chilean mine the result is Minas Las Pindatas, a rhythmically dense and sparsely constructed record that at times sounds like morse code from the center of the earth, while other times has the tribal groove of Miles Davis deep in his late 60s/early 70s electric phase.
Minas Las Pindatas, if you didn’t know it was recorded in a Chilean mine, locks into the exploratory world of late 60s/early 70s experimental jazz and Krautrock. Rhythm is king here, and the clicks and clacks doused in that natural reverb feel as much cosmic as they do organic. “Gracias a San Lorenzo” wavers on a skeletal beat as flute embarks on a cavernous journey. As much Mwandishi and Sextant as it is early Can and Popol Vuh. Ethereal psychedelics emerge in wonky electronics, giving the proceedings an air of mystery. “La Farola” rolls out over 13 minutes, laying out a dark expanse with a wobbly synth line, distant horns, and what sounds like wind chimes in the distance. This feels more like exploratory jazz than a nature soundtrack in a cave and I’m here for it.
“Caminando” might be the darkest and most mysterious track here as it closes out the album on ghost-like moans and near horror film tension. It sounds like the kind of noise you definitely don’t want to hear as your exploring a Chilean mine. Though despite the spooky nature of this piece, there’s still a heartbeat rhythm keeping time as we wander further into the darkness.
Over the course of 6 expansive and exploratory tracks Arthur King make good use of their surroundings, allowing nature to become as much a part of the recording process as the instruments themselves. Finding the magic within these distinct locales gives the recordings a sort of ethereal quality. It gives a whole new facet to field recordings and offers up some fascinating sound experiences. Minas Las Pindatas is an incredible musical journey, and an organic collaboration between artists and Mother Nature. Excited to see what Arthur King and Changing Landscapes has in store for next time.