Marielle V Jakobsons: Glass Canyon
Students of Decay

Oakland-based sound artist Marielle Jakobsons has been issuing stellar work for a number of years now and within a variety of contexts, whether it be with Agnes Szelag in Myrmyr or on her own under the Darwinsbitch name. In addition, she and Szelag recently joined forces with cellist Helena Espvall for the fine Improvisations for Strings and Electronics set that Arachnidiscs Recordings released earlier this year. What makes Glass Canyon so appealing—aside from that fact that it's Jakobsons' first major work issued under her own name and her first solo outing since Digitalis issued the Darwinsbitch recording Ore in 2009—is that its sound palette is constituted solely by violin and synthesizer. Not only does this bring Jakobsons' sound into the orbit of fellow galaxial explorers such as Grouper and Motion Sickness of Time Travel, it also expands on their respective sounds by adding to it the distinctive timbre of the violin.

Throughout the six-track, thirty-eight-minute album, Jakobsons shows herself to be an exceptionally skilful sound sculptor, someone who knows the value of patience and control and how to derive maximum impact from a restricted number of sound elements. At times the violin and synthesizers blend into a thick, pulsating mass; at other times, the contrasts between them are brought into sharp relief. As a result, the alien pulsations of the synthesizers and the neo-classical elegance of the bowed violin combine to produce an hypnotic result that's both ethereal and earthy. At album's start, the swooping cry of the violin amplifies the emotional impact of “Purple Sands,” an otherwise crystalline moodscape of synthesizer whooshes and sparkle. “Albite Breath” later plunges us deeply into a cavernous, synth-heavy universe, though even here Jakobsons' violin playing imbues the material with her distinctive voice. Such moments are but two of many that appear on this accomplished and consistently satisfying outing, which she composed from 2009 to 2011. Glass Canyon finds Jakobsons in fine form and shows her continuing maturation as a composer, arranger, and instrumentalist.

July-August 2012