In “Light Loss”, the light is black and cold. Its dissonant opening is just a trick of the light, because the rest of the album is a tranquil, but cool, journey to the Arctic. Bleak cries rise up and take flight like a flock of startled birds. The frosty treetops of their frozen forest sway and shake as they fly away. Winter has bitten away at the branches, and it has choked away any scent of life inside the forest. A scraped rhythm staggers out of the foliage, slightly distorted in its form. It starts to get loud, and as the volume increases, so does the cold, but offthesky cuts off the circulation before it gets too wild. The record has a slightly unstable side that constantly threatens to bury the ambient sound in its entirety. It’s a shifting plate deep in the Earth that has the potential to cause a major earthquake. ‘Dream Coma’ is quieter, at least at first, but the track morphs. It starts off in near-silence, with a horn-like cry echoing from far away (a cry that will be featured later on), but minutes later it dissects itself. Sparks begin to fly, and the drone becomes brighter. There’s no loss of light here.
The brutal and unforgiving spectacle that we call winter can also be full of its own snow-shot beauty; a pristine, delicate snowflake that glistens and falls silently in the midst of a roaring blizzard, or the oh-so-quiet stillness that drapes itself over the neighbourhood after the heavy snowfall. The merciless decline in temperature is met by the lengthy hibernation of several species. The furry hoods and the frayed scarves can only protect us for so long. The black vortex of “Light Loss” holds us in an icy grip, and even when the light slowly starts to return somewhere around mid-February, the Fahrenheit can still fall.
Offthesky (Jason Corder) lets the music play out slowly. He’s always in control. The five heavy drones are just long enough — and cold enough — to give you a little shiver. The languid drones of ‘Bloodletting’ are beautiful sighs; frozen, white clouds that choke the air with every exhalation. The ambient drones are slow and wispy, and the blurred melody is haunted by the cold. A warmer bass occasionally passes by. The track gradually turns and sinks into decline, succumbing to the frostbite. The beauty freezes over. The icy palace shatters. This is classic ambient.
‘If We Were A Lake’ starts off very quietly. Its delayed call is similar to a warning, but it could also be an invitation. You just have to progress a little further to find out. The ice creaks and cracks, but it holds. The music is perfect ice; a lovely, smooth surface. The air, like the ice, is crisp and clear. “Light Loss” delves into the lengthy battle that takes place over the winter — the soft flakes and the innocent snowball fight versus the flood and the huge, unprecedented storm. It is a necessary time: a season where the loss of light is evident, and a season where the snow white stillness comes face to face with the avalanche.