offthesky & Darren McClure: Suspended
Symbolic Interaction

Suspended documents a collaboration so natural that it seems inevitable between sound manipulators offthesky (Jason Corder) and Darren McClure, both of whom have issued albums on the experimental electronic label The Land Of. The production process for Suspended was simple and straightforward: the duo exchanged and expanded upon their respective audio files and then compiled the results into a full-length form. In one respect, the project resembles a split release, given that the two individually composed alternating tracks, and a true collaboration, in that the pieces were manipulated and designed jointly. McClure, originally from North Ireland and currently residing in Matsumoto, Japan, generates his material from software-generated digital sounds and field recordings (both processed and untreated) and aims for a warm and atmospheric mix within which fragments of melodies surface and disappear. Working with guitar, piano, sine waves, field-recordings, and a variety of software programs, the Kentucky-based Corder involves chaos theory and weather patterns in determining the direction his material takes.

In the album's eight settings, subtle beat patterns give the tracks structure and forward momentum, while a carefully-measured interplay of electronic and natural found sounds appears over top, with Corder's guitar playing often acting as the nucleus. The title track establishes a relaxed tone that carries on throughout the recording, with in this case a lulling, metronomic pulse paired with a shimmering sound field and recurring guitar pattern. Strip away the layers of textural colouration in “Once, When We Used To” and you'd be left with a pretty folktronic set-piece. In the nine-minute “Requiem For Flotation,” scattered pebbles pop and tinkle while slivers of high-pitched tones glisten and a simple guitar motif asserts itself, after which “For Everything Grows” brings the album to a peaceful close with an electroacoustic mix of blurry melodic fragments, acoustic guitar, and piano. In terms of sound design, Corder and McClure gravitate towards dense, multi-tiered structures loaded with microsound textural detail. Sounds remain in constant flux and metamorphosis, resulting in tactile pieces that develop with a natural and fluid logic and purpose.

September 2009