Jessica Moss shares track & video “Distortion Harbour” from Phosphenes

Jessicamoss 2021 Selfnocredit
Image provided by the artist

Phosphenes out this Friday 19 November

Jessica Moss currently on tour in Scandinavia
Hometown Montréal show 04 December

Fresh off her rapturous reception at Le Guess Who? Festival last weekend where she played two capacity shows 12 hours apart—a duo show with Matana Roberts late Friday night brought a long ovation from the audience at Jacobikerk, and her solo show rescheduled to early afternoon the next day (as the festival scrambled to adjust to new Dutch lockdown rules) mesmerised a packed Theater Kikker—Jessica Moss now enters the second half of her European tour with a run of dates through Scandinavia. The official release date for her new album drops right in the midst of this too: Phosphenes is in stores and streamers this Friday 19 November.

Moss (Jessica) plays Moss (Norway) on this very date. You can’t make this up.

To celebrate, Moss is sharing a new visual: her video for “Distortion Harbour” is suitably pagan and aflame, a Nordic tribute to outdoor winter fires and pandemic rituals and a fitting accompaniment to the harrowing ambient-metal/dark-industrial drone of the album’s noisiest song (feat. grinding distorted contrebasse from Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Thierry Amar).

Artist Notes: “Distortion Harbour”

During the months of Québec winter lockdown last year, when we were prohibited from gathering and had a curfew of 8pm, some dear friends started searching out hidden spots around our neighbourhood to build outdoor fires (also prohibited). We had a group thread calling for gatherings and it was the only way most of us ever saw each other for many months. Those were some life-saving encounters; spending the early evening hours sitting in the snow by the train tracks, or behind shipping containers in a parking lot. We’d make individual couches out of the snow, dragging pallets from behind buildings to make beautiful fires, just appreciating the nearness of friends during that darkest of seasons, in these darkest of times.

It became a beloved ritual, which has continued into this next pandemic stage. Our once-upon-a-time regular haunts and meeting places are slowly and shakily reopening, strict rules we’ve lived under for more than a year now slowly loosening, but many of us continue to gather outdoors, mostly preferring these hidden and free spots over trying to rejoin or rebuild much of the shape of the life we left behind.

This song took shape during those dark months. It’s based around a sample I made a few years ago of my voice all fucked-with in ways I had never done before and could never repeat again; that sample had been waiting for its moment, stored on one of my loop pedals ever since. I rediscovered it one a lonely jam space day, and found it to be exactly the sentiment to fit the words I had been singing to myself; plugged in my guitar and allowed myself to just belt it the fuck out. Recorded those unfettered experiments and used them as the bones, added violins and then a hundred hunched-over hours of careful worrying over until it was ready for Thierry’s growling bass and Radwan’s mixing genius.

– Jessica Moss, Montréal, October 2021 –

Jessica Moss Tour Poster

16.11.2021 • Odense DK • PåTaget

17.11.2021 • Göteborg SE • Koloni Link

18.11.2021 • Oslo NO • Blå

19.11.2021 • Moss NO • House Of Foundation Link

20.11.2021 • Stockholm SE • Sofiakyrka Link

21.11.2021 • Malmö SE • Plan B Link

22.11.2021 • Copenhagen DK • Alice Link

23.11.2021 • Aarhus DK • Radar Link

* * *

04.12.2021 • Montréal QC • Sala Rossa Link
with Kee Avil and Alexei Perry Cox

Jessica Moss


“Contemplation I”
Contemplation II
“Contemplation III”
“Let Down”
Distortion Harbour
“Memorizing & Forgetting”

180gLP / CD / DL
Constellation • CST161
Release date: 19 November 2021

Genres: Post-Classical, Drone, Industrial-Ethereal
RIYL:  Stars Of The Lid, Sarah Davachi, Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel, Meredith Monk, Harold Budd, Godspeed You! Black Emperor

“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-industrial contemporary composition, her acoustic, amplified, looped, distorted and electronically-shifted violin is the raw material for deeply expressive, palpably haunting, wholly committed longform compositions. 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.

In the three-movement “Contemplation Suite” on Side One, 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 that sets whole tones against one another, this is a bona fide requiem the finds Moss at her most instrumentally naturalistic, measured, and modern. With its musical focus squarely on the notes and intervals, shaped by her through-composed stylistic playing and performance, the “Contemplation Suite” is Moss’s most formally accomplished post-classical work—and an irrefutably powerful lament.

Side Two unfolds in a more portentous vein: “Let Down” is marked by cavernous octave-dropped arco and pizzicato, providing a gothically-inflected substratum upon which plangent wordless vocal invocations and cumulative gyres of violin melody unfurl. “Distortion Harbour” grinds with noisier grit, tracing a tremendous arc of darkwave crescendo, also shot through with vocal calls, and intensified by strobing power electronics: Moss at her harrowing maximalist best. Both songs highlight Moss’s ambient-metal, ethereal-noise sensibility and her distinctive palette of industrial-inflected signal-bending—a reminder of why she’s also been a go-to player for the likes of Big Brave, Oiseaux-Tempête and Zu in recent years. Album closer “Memorizing & Forgetting” is inarguably the most tender and overtly touching song in Jessica’s oeuvre: a keening lullabye of sorts, on which she plays piano, violin and guitar, joined by Julius Lewy in a lustrous ambient vocal duet.

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