50 For 2010: N0. 46
Posted In: 50 For 2010, Date Palms, Of Psalms, Root Strata
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Music for the rain forests of the moon, straight out of Oakland CA…
From Root Strata – ‘Of Psalms’ is the debut album by Date Palms, the duo of Marielle Jakobsons and Gregg Kowalsky. The two have birthed a suite of slowed-down music of the spheres, with a canopy of glowing fog and a heavy narcotic bass pulse that keeps the whole thing rooted straight into the earth. It’s a heady mix of alap paced violin phrases, jewel toned keys, harp swells, distorted tapes and ever present bass waves all crafted with precision detail in a humid space that leaves a dreamy imprint in the mind long after waking. Although separately Jakobsons and Kowalsky have made inroads into these types of landscapes before (Gregg with his Tape Chants series & Marielle with MYRMYR & Darwinsbitch), nothing really compares the world of ‘Of Psalms’ that the two created together with its perfect balance of micro & macro, inner & outer, cosmic & earth bound, casting some sort of old world magic on everyone within range.
Gregg Kowalsky resides in Oakland, California where he completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Electronic Music and Recording Media at Mills College. Kowalsky’s compositions range from drone and noise pieces to meditative psychedelia. After his debut album, Through the Cardial Window (Kranky), Gregg started working with cassette tapes, sine oscillators, mixer feedback and contact mics.
Marielle Jakobsons received her MFA in Electronic Music from Mills College in May 2006, where she studied improvisation with Fred Frith, electronic and computer music with Chris Brown, Maggi Payne, and Les Stuck. Her thesis work Two Violins and a Theatre: A Triptych of Resonances is an immersive performance environment utilizing water, light, custom electronics and interactive computer programming to deconstruct the violin as a sonic interface. At the CCMIX in Paris, France, she studied computer music composition with Gerard Pape, Jean-Claude Risset, Trevor Wishart, and Curtis Roads. Marielle received her B.A. in Music Performance and Biology from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying contemporary piano performance with Anita Pontremoli and founding the Case New Music Ensemble. Prior, she studied classical violin with Yoko Moore, assistant concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra.
‘Of Psalms’ is notable for a number of things – insistent and confident bass, Eastern/Indian themes and sedative relaxant qualities amongst them. The tracks, all Psalms, are of a goodly length, most well above five minutes and the epic Psalm 3 clocking in at close to fifteen minutes.
The tones sound as though they could have emanated from an any iteration of music inspired by the desert, be it traditional Eastern Arabic or even more recent exemplars of desert rock like Kyuss. The bass holds the majority of the record up, Atlas-like; it reminded me of Kyuss in more places than one, albeit a 33rpm version with considerably less riffing.
The album is well produced – the mix is appropriate for the material, and the bottom end is well placed given its relative prominence. The musical pedigree of the two players is quite obvious in the immaculate phrasing, and it’s a confident spectrum – there is no need to hide any bum notes or half thought out ideas, all tracks are upfront, present and accounted for.
There is a strong “New Age” vibe to proceedings, but the muscular bass and (in places) oceanic feedback give it the oomph needed to escape that comparison in a derogatory way.
- Alex Gibson for Fluid Radio
Available through Experimedia