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Marielle V. Jakobsons - Glass Canyon

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Artist: Marielle V. Jakobsons

Album: Glass Canyon

Label: Students of Decay

Review date: Oct. 9, 2012

What is it to experience the beautiful? Wittgenstein believed that when the eye sees something beautiful, the hand wants to draw it. Beauty seems to bring copies of itself into being. For Oakland-based sound artist and violinist Marielle V.Jakobsons, it seems the beautiful in nature is something that calls forth sound reproductions. Jakobsons’ first major work under her own name is a stripped down aural nakedness of synth and violin, to examine (as she has said herself) “where the two timbres meet.” The beauty-in-nature introduced through the six track titles, each combining colors with landscapes, along with the disc’s megacosm-inspired graphics implies a reproduction of the beautiful in nature.

In the positing of the two instruments against each other, there is a perpetual duplicating of a sound movement throughout the album. The first track, “Purple Sands,” introduces this duplication with a low threnodial synth and the flutter of iambic strings playfully teasing out the sleepy drone imitated throughout each track. For an unrecognizable nine minutes, the audience floats in a tranquil sea, reflecting the deep concentration and an attention to proficiency of the musician. This is sound design at its finest, the pacing perfection, and the mood inciting eternal artistic creation. For its entire dark semblance, each track carries the optimism of the natural and the breath-light touch of the beautiful.

With such deep attention to this beauty, and the recreation of a dance between two unusually partnered instruments, Jakobsons generates her own intrinsic musical laws. A good example is “Dusty Trails,” with the pulsing electronic murmur of the synth writhing and weaving through a traditional choral style string, until the end of the track when the synth pares down into a rapid metronomic whirr and the strings reduce to a high pitched solo lament, each moving within its own traditions and yet each sound reaching out for the other. The end of the track with its electric echoes and demented contortions evoke the beauty of each sound as it morphs into a new partnership.

The strings are electronically tainted, to bring them closer to the synthesized sound, but in the deft hands of Jakobsons, they never lose their vibrational impact. Jakobsons is as fine a synth player as she is violinist and it is her patience and her ability that allow the sounds to sit in layers upon each other, from the heady dominating chords on “Albite Breath” through to the belly-aching drone on “Shale Hollows.” The latter track is the final of the six and the most traditional drone of the bunch. One is almost tempted to call the sounds ambient, but they are too well crafted and too intricate to play to so light a description. This is a mood drawn from the beauty of nature and what seems to be a desire to reproduce that beauty. It achieves this indeterminate objective by revealing some fringe of sound that has previously been inaccessible to the rest of us.

By Lisa Thatcher

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