Chubby Wolf’s “Turkey Decoy” has one of the richest sonic environments I’ve encountered. I mean it. A few times while listening I thought to myself “There is no way all of these aural experiences could be from this one recording. Something has to be going on outside.” Once I turned it off I heard silence. Everything did come from the headphones. I was amazed. Part of the pleasure derived from this recording is in that detail. Ambient music rarely feels this tactile.
Right from the beginning you’re exposed to it. A little ring in “Cantankerous Baby” gives off the impression of something much larger, much calmer. Going through each one of these songs I felt the attention Danielle Baquet-Long gave to every second. You meet tiny idiosyncrasies in every song, from little audio snippets about talcum powder (in “Sushi on a Hot Day”) to the blurred piano in “Scalloped Toes”.
My favorite pieces are the longest. “Rattling Mandibles” expands onward. Once it ends you get the feeling it continues on without you. The volume doesn’t matter, it’ll still be there waiting. Chubby Wolf varies the approach, sounds, volume and texture for each piece. So while you get the sense this is meant to be heard together, each piece can and does stand on its own as a specific artifact.
A great deal of musicians work with this sort of approach: a treated guitar. Most of them sound somewhat similar to one another. Chubby Wolf doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard before. Often the imperfections in sound are scrubbed clean, especially in these ambient recordings, leaving only the pristine shimmering noises. “Turkey Decoy” deftly avoids the many pratfalls of ambient music to create something unmistakably human.