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Jet Black Sea - Absorption Lines CD (album) cover

ABSORPTION LINES

Jet Black Sea

 

Crossover Prog

4.06 | 20 ratings

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marbles259
5 stars Jet Black Sea ? Absorption Lines (2017)

In 2013, Nine Stones Close main man Adrian Jones teamed up with Dutch electronics wizard Michel Simons, to produce Jet Black Sea's debut album, the magnificent The Path of Least Existence. The album was a collection of eloquent, ethereal but nonetheless intense instrumental pieces, which provided the pair with a no limits platform for experimentation.

While Absorption Lines, the sophomore outing for the Anglo-Dutch duo, unquestionably has the DNA of the first album within its psyche, Simons and Jones have shown, that neither is happy with simply giving us more of the same. Absorption Lines draws on a wider range of musical genres, sounds, styles and influences. The album twists and turns through these diverse passageways, never allowing the listener to become totally at ease or ever convinced they can predict what is coming next. Absorption Lines is an altogether different animal to its predecessor.

Within the first three minutes, opening track Wrong Turn, becomes a head-spinning multi-directional piece, delivering swirling keyboards alongside a truly forceful hook that mesmerises from the start.

The Sixth Wheel roams (and later marches) through entirely different scenery to the opening salvo of Wrong Turn. Middle-eastern influenced synth work runs throughout the heart of the track, while Jones' crunching riffs, some of the heaviest on the album, demonstrate the seamless coalescence that occurs when Jet Black Sea combine their not inconsiderable talent. Jones and Simons have chosen further contributors to the album wisely; The Sixth Wheel is the second of three tracks benefiting from the input of Nine Stones Close drummer Pieter van Hoorn and also the first of two to feature Riversea keyboardist Brendan Eyre. Both help to make this one of the most intriguing tracks on the album. Complementing this wealth of talent, the production on the album dances with an iridescent, opalescent vigour and The Sixth Wheel is no exception. Sound engineer Paul van Zeeland has helped to construct what may be the best sounding album of Jones' career. No mean feat, considering the multi-layered approach Jet Black Sea use in their beguiling compositions.

Jumping to a Conclusion (Part 1), is a short link instrumental which leads us directly into the title track. Absorption Lines, the longest track and centrepiece of the album, clocks in just a few seconds short of eleven minutes. It is a melancholic, wraithlike piece, which transports us to the stricken Apollo 13 spacecraft, leaving us drifting helplessly along with the crew; the original recordings of dialogue between the astronauts and Houston, adding an ominous, gritty reality. The title track steadily builds its atmosphere layer by layer, until six minutes in, when Adrian Jones unleashes a powerful slide guitar solo so haunting, your stereo will need an exorcist. Jones himself has stated "it's probably the best piece of slide playing I have managed so far." Few would disagree. Absorption Lines is a masterpiece of the slow reveal.

As the first Jet Black Sea album was an entirely instrumental undertaking, it may surprise some that fifth track Cathedral, is the first of two songs on the album. Cathedral, doesn't give up all its secrets straight away; the lyrical segment of the track not kicking in until the fourth of the song's seven minutes. However, make no mistake, this is undeniably a Jet Black Sea composition ? Cathedral was originally conceived as an entirely instrumental piece - the lyrics added late on in the recording of the album ? but one which exudes a darker malevolence with the addition of the exhilarating vocal provided by Jones' Nine Stones Close bandmate, Adrian (AiO) O' Shaughnessy. "Hollow heart and hollow wisdom?...Paradise is not here" intones O' Shaughnessy , as Cathedral becomes a captivating paean to a man losing his faith.

Up next is Hours Slip into Days, the second longest track on the album. It opens with a hypnotising piano section which could easily be a direct continuation of the exquisite coda on the final track of the band's first album. Hours? is surreal, somnolent, almost trancelike in its construction. Eight-and-a-half minutes float by in heartbeat. There is a swirling, celestial feel to the lyric, delivered flawlessly by Tony Patterson - his vocals the perfect fit for such a song. "You don't know me, Out of reach, Medicate, Alleviate, Mask the fear." As has always been the case, Jones' lyrics dig deep into the soul and draw the listener inexorably into his dreams.

Completing the album, is a second track influenced by the plight of those aboard Apollo 13; 133 Hours referring to length of one of the possible return flight plans put forward by NASA after the now famous "problem". While no less potent in its empyrean poignant atmospherics than the title track, 133 Hours delivers a greater feeling of optimism in the latter part of the track; the closing minutes of the album bringing to mind the successful splashdown, in the Pacific Ocean, of the command module - Odyssey.

With the release of Absorption Lines, Jet Black Sea have made a significant leap forward in their sound; the album only revealing its full trove of treasures with multiple listens. While maintaining the innovative, inventive qualities that made "The Path of Least Existence" such a success, Simons and Jones have pushed themselves to the limit once more. Without a doubt they bring out the best in each other.

Mysterious yet charismatic; ambient yet powerful; alluring yet secretive - Jet Black Sea deserve your attention.

marbles259 | 5/5 |

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