Offthesky: Hiding Nature
Ian Hawgood thinks so much of Jason Corder's work that he's elected to issue his material on all three of his labels—Home Normal, Tokyo Droning, and Nomadic Kids Republic. It's high praise but not unwarranted, as Hiding Nature, Corder's Home Normal set, makes clear. It's also not hard to understand Hawgood's enthusiam for Corder's Offthesky concept, as much of the recording suggests they're kindred sensibilities, with both interested in experimental marriages of found sounds, field recordings, and heavily processed instrument sounds.
Apparently Corder's initial plan for Hiding Nature (the ostensible follow-up to the early 2009 release Creek Caught Fire issued by The Land Of) was to create material using vibraphone as the primary sound source, but the palette expanded as the project evolved such that guitars and vocals emerged as part of the mix too. Describing the album's nine settings as tranquil isn't entirely off the mark—much of the material unfolds in a meditative, drifting style—but labeling it as such underscores the wealth of detail and activity that appears when dazzling clouds of bell tones, speckled textures, and guitar-generated fuzz and pops billow through the tracks (“Light Like” and “Fear of Flora” prime examples). “Birds Eye View” captures a beehive of buzzes, clicks, flutters, clanks, and whirrs, much of it seemingly guitar-generated; “Kind of Brittle” presents a forest-like evocation of vibraphone tones (more suggestive of tinkling gamelan bells); and a gamelan-like flow of treated vibraphone tones turns “Rest But Not Least” into a blinding hall of mirrors. In fact, each song is so heavily built from fragmented slivers and warbles of sound that the appearance of a fully-stated electric guitar theme in “Hand Held Lightly” proves ear-catching all by itself. Even more surprising, a faint, muffled beat haunts the background of “Little Subtle Secret” in such a way that some tangential connection to techno is hinted at, even if the track's focal points remain swirls of guitar shards and fuzz. Unexpected moments of this kind help make Hiding Nature the captivating listening experience that it is.