Jessica Moss is a prominent member of the Canadian experimental scene, most known for her participation in the Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra & Tra-La-La-Band collective, as well as being a founding member of Black Ox Orkestar. A performer known for her versatility, she has also appeared as a guest for Frankie Sparo, Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire. In 2015 she released her first solo album, Under Plastic Island, in a DIY fashion and not through a label, and now she follows up with Pools of Light, her first release through Constellation records.
For Moss, true balance exists between tradition and experimentation. It is the merging of these two worlds that define her perspective and playing. From classical beginnings her compositions traverse into the experimental space, finding common threads between two contrasting entities. The different morphings and concepts that arise are encapsulated in the two chapters of Pools of Light.
The first movement, “Entire Populations” descents into the realm of electronics, followed by a classical opening. Mantra-like vocals in the second part aid in the transition, offering a more psychedelic take. The journey is majestic, with Moss completing the switch in the third movement, completely embracing the electronic perspective, but with remnants of the standard form still in sight. These remains perform the final return to the beginning of the movement, creating a circling effect for the track, ending in the same space it begun.
Where “Entire Populations” was focused more on the progression and arrangement of the music, the second movement, “Glaciers,” embraces the textural quality of the sound. The structures here are looser, the approach hazier, and the compositions more adventurous. The processed vocals and the inharmonious violin of the first part display this intricacy. The structures are gradually enriched, with new elements adapted into them. The movements are graceful, taking a minimalist outlook with the progression, but an expanding view when it comes to the arrangement, provide a smooth transition from one state to the next. Drones are introduced and abstract electronic takes, further open up the sound, highlighting the emotive quality that the final parts of “Glaciers” bring to the surface.
Pools of Light displays the preservation of tradition, but also its expansion. Deeply experimental without setting aside its beginnings Moss is crafting an excellent atmosphere through all the different elements. It is a work of retaining the subtle equilibrium and of unfolding a strong narrative.
7.7 / 10
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