Ore, the latest release from Oakland-based composer Marielle Jakobsons’s solo project darwinsbitch, evolves in a fashion similar to Darwin’s coral model: it grows in seemingly anarchic ways. Expressionistic brushstrokes paint the solid droning soundscape with violin interpolations and complex, detailed harmonies; but as you look back, the previously obscured hinges that hold it all together are revealed. This music isn’t “built up” in a traditional sense; instead, it expands in non-vertical directions full of eastern nuances.
We’ve came a long, strange way when most of our contact with the world is mediated by some sort of technology, whether it be something as simple as gardening or something as abstract as creating electronic tones that simulate the music of the spheres. Ore thrives on this idea. It suggests that perhaps such a world is on the border of death; that perhaps all the earth repressed beneath the sidewalks, all the wildlife exiled from our cities, and all the rivers confined in drains create an ecological lament, one of pulsing sounds and sparse phrases that become blurred with artificiality. The result is beautifully tragic, as in “Shadow Leaves,” a long, mournful, trance-like piece that could be a metaphor for the planet after our passing, because we, after all, are an integral part of it as well. Gamelan-esque meditations adorn a dark, chilling drone that ebbs downward until it finally rests upon the ground as mere obscurity.
The tranquility, or maybe contained energy inherent to drone music turns this album into a strong meditational provocation: we are almost helpless as we watch our environment fall apart; we are almost forced into contributing to its demise; and we, along with our machines, will play our part while fully conscious of its dire consequences. Maybe that’s why, beyond the technical specs, there is no precise beginning or ending to this album. It endlessly grows like coral, with no narrative to guide its course, the all-encompassing noises and drones almost whispering their way through our minds to reveal, like the tolling bells at the end of “Raven’s Dissipation”, the dreadful, inevitable conclusion to it all.
October 21, 2009
Behind the immaculately named Darwinsbitch is one Marielle Jakobsons who, on this, her debut solo seedee, has assembled a many layered monolith of sound.
Taking elements of drone, folk music and melancholic sacramental music, jakobson (who is also part of the duos Date Palms and Myrmyr) has focused them into a most intriguing whole. There is a deceptive ease to the music. It’s far too easy to slip comfortably inside the ambience and miss the sheer quality of the music. Her instrumentation is dense yet unobtrusive and drenched in the white heat of her drones.
Ore is a beautiful piece of folk music that is equal part utterly familiar, utterly alien and utterly compelling.