Reviews Search

Organum Electronics, "Noughwhere"; David Jackman "A Cloud of Light"

NoughwhereDavid Jackman proceeds through the latest two entries in Die Stadt's current subscription series of his new work with some sense of continuity with recent works as well as the first two installments of the series (Darcknes and Quietude, both as Organum Electronics). However, and perhaps most clearly indicated by the different moniker he is using, the two discs emphasize different facets of Jackman's art, while still representing linked parts of a long-form project.

Die Stadt

As Organum Electronics, Noughwhere is the more forceful of the pair. Obviously utilizing electronic instrumentation throughout, Jackman begins with an organ-like sustained tone, but soon incorporates more abrasive electronic sounds. Throughout the 56-minute-long piece, the tones are often overshadowed by his use of the resonating electronic noise, which makes this the more challenging of the two albums. He does use one clearly non-electronic element throughout: the massive tolling bell that has been featured in much of his recent work. Even that, however, receives some level of sonic manipulation, with him intensifying the sound into something even heavier than its natural qualities.

Again, David Jackman weaves together what sounds to be only a handful of sounds for the album's  duration, but his unquestionable expertise at blending and mixing makes for enjoyable shifting dynamics. While aggressive sounding at times, he never allows Noughwhere to become too unpleasant, even though the overall work is monolithic and unrelenting. For the last few minutes, he reduces the elements to a simmer, but as the bells ring in even heavier, he matches their levels until the piece comes to a jarring conclusion, with a passage of silence tacked on at the end that made me expect another outburst.

Under his own name, A Cloud of Light is a bit more reserved in its sound. Sitar-like tones resonate as recordings of ravens enter rather early (another of his more frequently used "instruments"), and again the bells make an appearance. This time, the arc is drawn out, and Jackman allows the elements to breathe, while never becoming too sparse or simplistic. Most notable is his use of pared down tones that, kept low in the mix, give not only an added sense of depth but an overall melodic quality to the whole piece. Eventually he shifts focus to the tones and carefully strips the sound, concluding on a slow, gentle fade as opposed to the intentionally abrupt ending to the recent Organum Electronics work.

As I have always been somewhat unclear as to what designates an Organum release from an Organum Electronics or David Jackman album, this is a case where that delineation is rather clear. Noughwhere certainly has a more synthetic quality to it, with even those non-electronic elements, such as the bells, having a sheen of processing. Comparably, the overall quality of A Cloud of Light is more organic in nature, even if there are likely some electronic treatments to be had. At roughly the midpoint in the subscription series, there are clear commonalities to be had following along with the first two works, which makes sense as Jackman has conceptualized this project as a singular project in the works since 2018. Given some of the unexpected directions on A Cloud of Light, I am certainly curious how the second half will be moving forward.