[Reviewed by stark]
It’s been a couple years that Jason Corder and his Offthesky comes and goes through my speakers. Obviously I don’t follow all his recordings – all these what, where and when issues; but by sometimes less, sometimes more winding paths we find eachother every once in a while, and I welcome the opportunity to absorb what he is proposing at this time, which is even more pleasant when you don’t know what to expect – he has tried different approaches within the field of experimental ambient, rarely using already established methods, always trying to discover something new, but at the same time maintaining his identity.
“Light Loss” is being released by the effort of the Russian label Dronarivm, which has had a pretty good streak recently. It turns out that the whole thing is quite minimal and – at least sometimes – rather dark. Of course we’re not talking about the “darkness” conceived for dark ambient, that often escapes into a fantasy world. Here, the darkness seems to have a human dimension, and the first song, “Mouthful Of Silence”, invariably reminds me of the song title of Polish pop group Myslovitz, “The Length of the Sound of Solitude”. Distant calls, female moans hidden between lonely drones and growing layers of noise. All of this raises the sense of the aforementioned solitude and abandonment by one’s soulmate. A feeling that I wouldn’t expect from Offthesky.
“Dream Coma” is a beautiful title, and an equally beautiful composition. More melodic and at the same time shifting the center of gravity from darkness to melancholy. Urban sadness. Still alone, but this time in the crowd, where all look and feel the same. The title indicates a dreamy journey into the mind. Partially yes, but I still hear the city. Then it gets louder, and with the sound of the organ Offthesky takes a turn towards a frost – heckeresque side. The atmosphere sems to brighten up a bit, as if a glimmer of hope has begun to smolder again.
Although divided into five segments, it could have easily been released as a one long, monumental work. “Bloodletting” flows directly from its predecessor and with its looped, quasicoral melody it brings to mind some of the sounds generated by Netherworld. Which should be regarded as a compliment. Strange rasps season the track with mechanics, like iron filings falling from the sky instead of snow.
“If We Were A Lake” is based on female vocals, violin and piano. You and I merge into one, we are one, a mountain lake under the moonlight. Kitsch? When you describe it with words, perhaps, but the music is far from it. The most ethereal fragment of the album.
And the title track, “Light Loss”. I always confuse it with “Weight Loss” which is not so unreasonable given the first minutes: quiet, floating in the air like a feather. But this is one of those ambient compositions where the end sounds exactly opposite to the beginning. It becomes more rough, with scraps of percussion and saxophone sounding as if taken from some avant-garde jazz work, successive layers thickening to end it all in a raging maelstrom. The whole process takes more than twenty minutes, so there is enough time to develop all the threads, and I’ll be damned if Jason Corder failed to do so. A powerful ambient piece of the highest sort and without doubt the best thing I’ve heard from this musician.
“Gently Down The Stream” is the first Offthesky album I listened to in my life. Six years already, maybe seven. How different is the current face of the project since then; more rhythmic and melodic, and … well, also more cheerful, naive … I am not referring here to the compositional concept, but rather a more youthful perception of the world. Or maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, there’s more fog, more pulsating pain in the back of the head on “Light Loss”. It also represents maturity, both musical and in life itself. And for the title composition he should have received an MTV Music Award, if there was an “underground ambient for fifty people” category.