Sound Impression: offthesky – the serpent phase [Hibernate]

Jason Corder’s experimental music project offthesky has always been a prolific one and this year has been no different, having already seen two full length and two collaborative releases the latest of which is the serpent phase on the UK based Hibernate label.

Initially conceived with the aim to create a series of piano sketches exploring mobile recording techniques, ‘the serpent phase’ takes in recordings made in Chicago, Switzerland, England, Canada, Colorado, and Kentucky. These initial recordings were then added to with other instrumentation including vibraphone, guitar, a synth, drum kit, vocals and textural field recordings.

Compared with Light Loss and the collaborations with Radere and Pleq earlier this year, the serpent phase is more hushed and restrained, suffused with a sparse and elegant minimalism. The piano lines form a skeletal framework over which opaque drones, ethereal voicings, and delicate textures are draped like veils with the additional instruments adding muted elements of narrative color.

The liner notes indicate that it is Corder’s intention to leave interpretation of the music to the listener, but there are prompts and cues in the titles that suggest personal, spiritual, and moral themes. The mood is distinctly somber and melancholic. This feels neither like music of a tortured soul nor of one completely at peace. It is full of tentativeness, disquiet, and paradox, but not without extended moments of grace and light, even of breathtaking beauty (most especially on ‘when to divide’ and ‘scintillate inside you’).  Truly a captivating and exquisitely crafted record.

the serpent phase is available on CD (`limited to 150 copies) and as a digital download.


Listen to ‘When to Divide’