Mailbox: Hot Spoon, Cold Mango – Paws on Ears

Sometime about 20,000 years ago, a wiry-haired and very hungry pack of descendants of the Miacis decided collectively that they should brave a plea for help from those strange smooth creatures with the strong rumps and weak shoulders. They’d been following these hairless beasts for some time, subsisting on what was left behind in or near piles of burning embers. But with an unexpected glut of healthy members having arrived in the spring, the pack needed more. The alphas of this particular pack were unique in that they were somehow capable of more than brute force; they knew how to demonstrate leadership of a more nuanced sort, the kind that centers strength derived from affection and protection, not only violence.

These canids were the first to tie themselves to the fate of humans. A few thousand years later, when men and women had stopped moving constantly, and built cities perfect for the proliferation of pest, small wildcats took the cue, and decided to set up shop too. Now we love these animals as family, and they love us.

Necessity and opportunity can breed sincere connection. It’s not always so different when two people find each other.

Hot Spoon, Cold Mango is a project from dutch-born artist Stephen Meeker, pursuing a genre he calls Motion Vision — a collage of modern classical, ambient, and post-rock. The project was born of the love between Meeker and his partner while indulging in Mango sorbet together using a spoon fresh out of the dishwasher. Despite these intimate beginnings, his latest album, Paws on Ears is lofty and conceptual; what Meeker terms as “easy listening for weary space travelers”.

The eighteen pieces on the record aren’t characterized by any single sound or effect. From the plasticine and putty-like woodwinds of “First Dance of Eight Paws”, to the amber-from-sap pianos of “Amongst the Roots of Trees”, to the fairy-buzz chimes of “Walk to Find Trees”. A disparate collection tied together by something ephemeral, but somehow also familiar.

Meeker describes his inspiration as rooted in his sense of his own existence. He explains that his music is an expression of his “profound lack of understanding of the world that surrounds [him]” and his desire to decipher our collective experience into something narrative. Paws on Ears does indeed strike a narrative chord, albeit an abstract one — not one that’s easily categorized. Maybe it’s that willingness to accept what he doesn’t know that gives the music its nearly-naive-but-surprisingly-complex quality. In any case, the feeling that resonates with me after a handful of listens through is simple the unconditionality of love possible between friends who need each other deeply. Symbiosis as devotion. Take that for what you will; I suspect Meeker wants the meaning to lie with the listener. Paws on Ears is out now for streaming universe-wide.

Hot Spoon, Cold Mango – “A Beckoning Plea of a Call For Bears” (sc)

Hot Spoon, Cold Mango – “A Cow Stands Guard Protecting Their Llamas” (sc)


This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.


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