A phosphene is “the phenomenon of seeing light without light entering the eye.” The title of the resolute, heart-rending new album by composer/violinist Jessica Moss could not be better chosen. Moss is by now a seasoned practitioner of immersive isolation music; across three previously acclaimed solo records of minimal and maximal post-classicism, her acoustic, amplified, looped, distorted and electronically-shifted violin is the raw material for deeply expressive, palpably haunting, wholly committed longform compositions. But Phosphenes is the most incisive and inexorable music Moss has made to date, inscribing halos of refracted light out of deep solitude and hermitic darkness with especially solemn determination and intensity. These compositions channel themselves like slow-moving water in a dark cave, catching glints of luminescence from within.
Signal processing is kept to a minimum in the three-movement “Contemplation” suite on Side One, as Moss exquisitely navigates consonance and dissonance, patiently building from single notes to harmonic clusters and melodic voicings. Violin amplification is deployed to activate overtones, pitch-shifts, live overdubbing and layered depth-of-field. Based on a four-note sequence... more