offthesky - The Serpent Phase
I have a confession to make. When Jason Cordor debuted Cold Distances (dataObscura/databloem) in 2003, I thought it was the bee's knees. I listened to that disc on repeat for weeks and practically wore it out. I continued to follow Cordor's work over his next few releases, but I eventually started to feel that he was moving in directions that did not always sync with my audio palette. Sometimes his work hit the right spot, but often it didn't.
With that as context, The Serpent Phase really resonates with me in a way that none of his releases have since 2003, even though this album is nothing like Cold Distances. The Serpent Phase is seven short tracks based largely on acoustic instrumentation (flutes, violin) that, of course, are treated in the ways you might expect with modern processing methods. The atmosphere is serene and mysterious; the sounds bellow and fill the sky. This is great drifting ambiance and will likely be one of my favorites of the year. Frankly, if I had heard this one "blind" with no knowledge of the artist, I never would have pegged it as offthesky.
I'm a sucker for good art and packaging too. The cover reminds me of something that might be seen in the v23 days of 4AD, and the digipak itself is a 6-panel matte finish. Lovely.
Nice to hear your thoughts on Cold Distances, Chris. It was a great collection of tracks with an exceptional unity and flow. A very early album for Jason. Unfortunately we no longer have the rights at DataObscura to sell it. Jason was going to re-release it in some form or other. Don't know if he has. Databloem might still have some physical copies.
I'm with you on many of the Offthesky releases, some very good pieces here and there, but not too much that has excited me overall. Will have to head to bandcamp though and give Serpent Phase a good listen.