Review: Jessica Moss – Pools Of Light

cover_1487625883192369Pools Of Light can be vast. 20 violins arching downward like birds diving into the sea. 10 voices in endless rounds of overlapping harmony, cutting across eachother at discordant angles. A single bowed melody flickering like a kite, anchored by bass notes that frame the flight as either liberated acrobatics or a startled and desperate bid to escape. Even at its peak of grandeur, the album never feels like the work of an ensemble. Instead, it’s a subdivision of self – a lone sentiment refracted and manipulated, feeding lyrical phonetics back into themselves, stirring whispers into their own multidirectional echoes, violins splaying outward like fingers from the same hand. As if to prove that Pools Of Light has only a single point of origin, Moss often melts the additional layers away again, with cascades of cannoning motif gradually vanishing to leave a solitary stream at the centre. Like an act of meditation, the bustle of multiple thoughts is banished to leave just a single, clearly defined notion, as crisp and essential as the quiet cycling of human breath, before the chorus of internal dialogue starts to flower open again.

Melodically, the album also undulates with the turning and overturning of internal reasoning, with bleak passages uplifted into optimism, doubted into minor keys, tempered into placid ambiences. The opening moments of “Glaciers” writhe like an oceanic storm, with voices and violins diced up by tremolo and foaming into the upper octaves, before flattening out into an exquisite major key drone speckled with overtonal sunlight. I can always hear the bow against the string, or the quiver of the throat as she sings. Even during the evocation of imagined places (the sea at dawn, the sheer glissandos of mountain ranges, deserts stirred by the wind), Jessica Moss embeds body and meaning into every crag and cloud and grain of sand. It’s an album that uses the sprawl of natural landscape – and the unfurl of a thousand violins and voices – as an analogy to the tempestuous, rich and cyclical homeostasis of human experience: surging up and down, swelling and shrinking, always returning to the centre.