Pools Of Light
CST124      CD 180gLP MP3 FLAC
Reviews
"Please rejoice as another member Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra releases a solo record in the spirit of terror and joy. Jessica Moss brings her violins to debut Pools of Light, her richly ominous playing introducing 'Entire Populations' in perhaps the most crushing way you can hear this instrument traditionally performed. Moss proves how far you can carry one sonic detail, bringing the motif that introduces her record all the way up to chaos before her voice enters the fray with a similar hypnotic warp. Some of the idioms on this record reflect influences in Klezmer music (following on from her work with the Black Ox Orkestar), with Moss taking that Eastern Jewish tradition and putting experimental timestamps on it, doubling down on moments of sound until they’re microscopic. She creates a constantly active and lush record where stringwork is nearly always at the fore, whether it’s a full-bodied arrangement or a murmuration one can’t help but keep their ear on. This is one intense record."
Norman 9/10

"A powerful solo effort, which, abetted by an array of pedals (distortions, octave/harmonizers, samplers/loopers), Moss performs entirely in real time. That live dimension gives the album's two side-length, multi-part compositions a visceral and sometimes raw character that makes them all the more engaging. Moss's music smudges the lines between several genres, and in her hands, the violin becomes a bountiful source of adventurous possibilities, especially when its soundworld is broadened so considerably by signal-processing and analog treatments. Narratively conceived, structured, and presented, Pools Of Light is socially conscious but not heavy-handed. Though she's clearly proven herself to be an invaluable team member in other projects, Pools Of Light makes the strongest of all possible cases for Moss's credibility as a solo artist."
Textura

"While Jessica Moss has spent decades contributing to a variety of projects on Constellation Records, Pools of Light is her first solo record. It's an ambitious work; using simple elements, Moss has created a sprawling composition that, while instrumental, manages to capture a sense of the precarious danger of our time. Listening to it is a despairing but cathartic experience. The raw materials are voice and violin, but Moss uses delays and loops, multi-tracking, and other effects to greatly expand the sonic potential of these basic elements, resulting in a sound world that is laser sharp in its focus, but still expansive and dynamic… After receiving her musical gifts in the context of collaborative projects for so long, listeners should jump on this opportunity to hear her solo work."
Exclaim 8/10

"A member of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Jessica Moss is steeped in the ideas of atmosphere, of shaping sound, of creating colours and sculptures in time. She has made a proper old-school ‘side one’ and ‘side two’ album; the four tracks per side each comprising a suite. The first, ‘Entire Populations’, is slow and steady with the sound of the drawn bow being both itself, pitch-shifted replicas and processed, manipulated otherness. Some sounds are slightly analogue distorted, some twisted. Moss’ voice is haunting, repeating on itself and backed with constant descending arpeggios – creating a powerful sense of loss that runs through the remainder to the closing track of the side, a pastoral and wistful piece. ‘Glaciers’, on side two, carries flavours of Steve Reich in the repetitive micro-tonal samples and of Ligetti in the high, floating and sawing chorus. Rich in tone and almost immobile, this is music you can stand and look at. A cinematic piece, side two travels high and lonely country, leading to rarefied spaces. A thoughtful album, made with depth and texture prominent, Pools Of Light will take you to new thought-worlds."
Vanguard Online

"There is a warm solemnity to Pools of Light, like participating in a communal prayer… Just like her work as part of the apocalyptically-inclined A Silver Mt. Zion, this album is an interplay of hope for the hopeless and hopelessness for the hopeful, an emotional process in which the sharing of an all-encompassing pain is the relief that provides a basis to keep dreaming, to integrally act in the name of a truthful empathy that wants not to deny suffering but to heal it in communion. The album is divided into two sections, 'Entire Populations' and 'Glaciers'. The former is more melodic than the latter, focusing on the immediacy of feeling, the short-duration perspective of a candle lit in the company of loved ones, an elegy for desires still wrapped in the brilliance of possibility. By the time the vocals kick in and create a contrapuntal hymn, the violin’s sound starts to seep back in as a hive of anguish, its tranquil, mournful melodies now underscored by an irresolvable tension: sadness illuminates a path that branches infinitely. 'We don’t see entire populations', the voices chant, positively multiplying a negation in the same tone, like a mental chasm before which only self-reproduction seems suitable, hearing one’s own voice over and over in order to avoid the gasping realization that we’ve already fallen from the cliff that once upon a time made us feel safe. 'Glaciers' is more of an ambient experiment, full of aching violin tones and modified voice clips that make it feel as though there were dozens of instruments emitting a single cry of mourning; its overall slower pace lends it a gravity that crystallizes sadness into distinct facets of time passing. Pools of Light is not the music of hopeful victory, it is the music of a compassionate failure; of the realization that only in each other will we find the care and the fulfillment that our victory over nature never once provided. We’ve failed, but it is in this failure where our love can finally thrive and stop conquering."
A Closer Listen

“Jessica Moss clearly understands the violin’s natural capability to produce heart-wrenching material, which was indicated by her set’s most climactic points. However, she also avoided riding this wave too heavily, contrasting her anxious moments of instability with gradual resolutions into silence. Playing a quick-hitting, 25-minute piece based on the “journey for all people to find peace,” Moss set an impressively lush tone considering her reliance on a relatively minimal set-up. Simple ideas grew into echoing soundscapes with manipulated violins filling every corner of the room. Raw, distorted melodies from vocals and violin, occasionally breached the surface of the backdrop resulting in moments of stunning transcendence.”
CKUT (Live Review • Pop Montréal/Museum of Contemporary Art)

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“Rejoice as another member Thee Silver Mt. Zion releases a solo record in the spirit of terror and joy. This is one intense record.” – Norman 9/10
 
“A powerful solo effort…visceral and sometimes raw…in her hands, the violin becomes a bountiful source of adventurous possibilities. Though she's clearly proven herself to be an invaluable team member in other projects, Pools Of Light makes the strongest of all possible cases for Moss's credibility as a solo artist." – Textura
 
“A despairing but cathartic experience…ambitious, expansive and dynamic. After receiving her musical gifts in the context of collaborative projects for so long, listeners should jump on this opportunity to hear her solo work.” – Exclaim 8/10
 
“A warm solemnity, like participating in a communal prayer… Pools of Light is not the music of hopeful victory, it is the music of a compassionate failure; of the realization that only in each other will we find the care and the fulfillment that our victory over nature never once provided.” – A Closer Listen
 
“Made with depth and texture, Pools Of Light will take you to new thought-worlds." – Vanguard
 
 
 
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DELUXE 180gLP w/3 art inserts + download coupon
 
 
 
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COMPACT DISC (100% recycled paperboard jacket)
 
 

Description

Jessica Moss is best known as violinist, backing vocalist and co-composer with the acclaimed cult chamber-punk band Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, the avant-klezmer group Black Ox Orkestar, and for her involvement in multiple records by Carla Bozulich’s Evangelista and two albums by Vic Chesnutt.
 
Having made six full-length albums and toured extensively with Mt. Zion from 2001-2014, Moss began performing solo work two years ago as that band went on hiatus, leading to mesmerizing solo appearances at ATP Festival, Le Guess Who? Festival, the Basilica Hudson 24-Hour Drone, the Winnipeg New Music Festival and the Montréal Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. Pools Of Light is her first full-length solo album, following the 2015 self-released cassette Under Plastic Island (recorded with Guy Picciotto of Fugazi).
 
As fans of the aforementioned projects will know, Moss has developed a distinctive and impressive approach to violin that combines a natural technical fluidity, a recombinant command of folk, classical and modern idioms, and an adventurous exploration of signal-bending and analog effects that uniquely expand the spectrum of the violin as sound source. Her solo work is deeply rooted in live performance, where she builds up and breaks down stunning longform compositions in real time with an array of pedals – including distortions, octave/harmonizers and samplers/loopers. To hear all of this brilliantly rallied and unfolded on a wholly solo recording (without reliance on software-based dubbing or effects) is intensely rewarding.
 
Comprised of two side-length multi-movement compositions, Pools Of Light unfolds at a stately, inexorable pace, combining sound-art and signal-processed timbres, extended melodic and contrapuntal lines, and the periodic deployment of stark, minimalist vocals. “Entire Populations” is a 24-minute tour de force on Side One, opening with gently blown-out solo violin layering a maqam- and klezmer-inflected theme that gradually recedes to near-silence as vocals are introduced, with Moss singing a single phrase (anchored by the song’s title) which builds up anew in careening stacked vocal loops, towards a majestic juxtaposition of dive-bombing electronics and strident melodic string excursions, ending in a tender scorched-earth denouement. “Glaciers I” and “Glaciers II” on Side Two are more explicitly textural and cinematic, moving between minimalist and maximalist, widescreen and intimate, ice and heat; a highly compelling suite of drone-inflected, nuanced and subtly plaintive instrumental pieces.
 
Moss explains: “As a solo performer, I feel an alignment with the transportive nature of storytelling tradition. My music is narrative, and I feel it’s subjects are already on everyone’s mind (climate change, refugee crisis, plastic garbage island floating in the sea...). My aim is to create a space where we can reflect on these things together. I prefer not to use too many words to relate; once the ideas are contextualized, conjuring images with sounds and melodies feels just as powerful to me and also more accessible in many ways. I don’t have an agenda, certainly not a solution, just a great sense of empathy and desire to be sharing space and experiences. I believe that having these transporting moments together can be both a balm and a way to receive energy to move forward, to engage.”
 
Pools Of Light is elegiac durational music at the intersection of neo-classicism, soundtrack, electronic, art-punk and avant-folk – a decidedly organic, non-academic, profoundly searching and emotive work, guided by Moss’s liner note mantra: “FEELING LOVE IN A MELTING WORLD”.
 
Thanks for listening.
 
Release date: 05 May 2017
Running time: 48:34
 
Packaging notes
CD comes in a custom mini-gatefold jacket printed on thick 24pt. 100% recycled Orford paperboard with inner dust sleeve for the disc. LP is pressed on 180 gram audiophile vinyl at Optimal (Germany) and comes in a heavyweight jacket printed on 100% recycled 24pt Orford paperboard with black poly-lined audiophile dust sleeve, three 12"x12" art prints, and a download card for a 320kbps MP3 copy of the album.
 
Tracklist
Side One
1 Entire Populations (Pt I)
2 Entire Populations (Pt II)
3 Entire Populations (Pt III)
4 Entire Populations (Pt IV)
Side Two
5 Glaciers I (Pt I)
6 Glaciers I (Pt II)
7 Glaciers II (Pt I)
8 Glaciers II (Pt II)
 
Credits
Written and performed by Jessica Moss
 
Recorded and mixed by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh at Thee Mighty Hotel2Tango, Montréal, 2016
 
Mastered by Harris Newman at Greymarket
 
Artwork by Jessica Moss, except back cover artwork by Nadia Moss