‘Light Divide’ by Jon Porras completely subverts expectations, wrong footing any preconceived ideas of what to expect from both artist and material. Describing the sound as “cinematic” is probably lazy – whenever instrumental material falls between genres and is hard to classify, cinematic is the fallback term, but it is difficult in this instance to think of a more appropriate one, other than perhaps “architectural”.
Foremost, it is a supremely confident work –vibrant, punchy and carrying a mood that almost requires a visual accompaniment, rather than just seeming like it would benefit from one. The material is both driven and inspired by a different compositional approach, built slowly, structurally and methodically from sub bass up, the theme of architecture and design reflected at each level. The cover depicts Maison La Roche, a villa designed and built by Le Corbusier, an architect known for the Modulor proportional system. Modulor uses human measurements, Fibonacci sequences and the golden ratio to bridge incompatible scales; as such, it seems the perfect muse for the material. Perhaps the light divides are the confines of the human body?
The album represents a major shift in tone. Not only is the album comprised almost exclusively of electronic synthesis, but also the bleaker outlooks of his solo work (not to mention the occasionally viscerally aggressive guitar) are almost completely replaced by an obliquely triumphant tone. The cavernous spaces of all tracks are much cleaner and brighter, and built of extremely reflective tile. One goal of the project appears to have been to construct spaces large enough to allow the reverb tail of the focal points to fall and decay as long as possible, whilst bouncing back from every cold angled corner.
‘Light Divide’ is Porras’ second solo release for Thrill Jockey, the first being 2012’s ‘Black Mesa’. A record it brings to mind was his compatriot Evan Camaniti’s 2012 LP/cassette for the same label, ‘Night Dust’. Inspired by 80s vampire movies and dub; Camaniti’s ‘Night Dust’ eked out a distinctive John Carpenter/VHS vibe, feeling completely apart from modern music. ‘Light Divide’ succeeds on a similar level, detaching itself from Porras’ previous recorded history: more of a literate rumination on physical space than a grouped collection of music.