Hot on the heels of Possession, a Valentine’s Day album recorded with Carl Ritger and Cody Yantis, Jason Corder (offthesky) enlists the help of eight musicians for Light Loss. The new work traces the arc of descending winter from first chill to dreary darkness, seeking to find light and hope in the bleakest of conditions.
In places such as Tromsø, the light retreats until it is completely absent, leaving residents at the mercy of inner demons: doubt, depression, despair. The drone that grows throughout the third minute of “Mouthful of Silence” is like that of the last departing plane. But one need not live in the light-deficient north to suffer from seasonal affective disorder. This winter, nearly ten feet of snow fell in Boston, and the daily doses of sunshine were not enough to dispel a sense of oppression.
As Wallace Stevens famously writes, “One must have a mind of winter/To regard the frost and the boughs … and not to think/Of any misery in the sound of the wind.” Corder’s drones begin as thin as gauze and end as thick as wool, but even as the light diminishes from a stream to a trickle, it remains active, a reminder of brighter things. Credit also the organ-like tones that offer a sense of spiritual presence and the strings and sax that wander across the sonic fields like red foxes in sooted snow. Wordless female voices waft upon the wind, offering consolation as the cold comes crashing in.
It all culminates in the titanic 21-minute title track, long enough to fill an EP. The north winds have tightened their grip; every leaf has fallen, and the sun has been obscured. As the track begins, the world seems frozen, stunned by the weight of winter. Very little movement can be detected. But like animals emerging from their dens, the instruments begin to enter the soundscape. Drums appear for the first time: a hibernating heartbeat, slow beneath the snow. In time, the muted pulse gives way to a series of crashes and taps, knocking on the door of the saxophone and asking if it can come out to play. Winter is not the end of fall or a death before spring, but a revival for the ice and snow, who luxuriate in the soft light of the moon. (Richard Allen)