CONSTELLATION 7 October 2022
We’ve reviewed Jessica Moss’s work back in 2017 and enjoyed other recordings since. As a member of Thee Silver Mount Zion, Jessica is adept in shaping sounds and textures. She takes acoustic sounds and treats them electronically, twisting, distorting, adding layers. But, here, she leaves plenty alone, for rich-toned cello and violin.
Melding strings, electronics, occasional drums and vocals, I hear semi-classical pieces, full of thoughtful, though astringent melodies. Harsh bowed cello and violin are prominent. Some melodies sound like Celtic laments on buzzing, austere sparse instrumentation. In the brief times where drums appear, they are scattered and more illustrative than rhythmic. There is echoing distorted guitar. ‘Light Falls On Everything’ sounds like solo classical music, with a simple and affecting theme on deep, resonant cello. Elsewhere, on ‘Uncanny Body’, I hear pipes, harsh, melancholy and slightly alien.
The overall album is flowing and continuous in theme, yet varied in each piece, inspiring repeated listens. Linked in tone to her previous set, ‘Phosphenes’, this has an isolated, remote and cool feel. We’ve remarked on this feeling to Moss’ work before but here it is enhanced by the isolation experienced during its 2021 lockdown composition and recording. There were no deadlines, no time demands, just space to be and to create. Despite the physical isolation, Jessica managed to draw in virtual collaboration – old organ parts, manipulated by her, drums and guitar from fellow travellers.
The sound combines drone, aspects of folk melodies from Mittel-Europa, chamber music and slabs of atmosphere. There is a powerful emotional punch, as with all her work and a deep-dive rewards the listener with a sense of some ancient force surfacing through modern tools.