Alex Cobb :: Passage to Morning (Students of Decay)

In a world drowning in ambient droning, Alex Cobb’s methods may be familiar, his materials no more than the tropes of the territory, but outcomes are at once reassuring in their genericity while beguilingly sui generis.

Alex Cobb 'Passage to Morning'

Alex Cobb ‘Passage to Morning’

[Release page] Head prefect of Students of Decay, Alex Cobb, returns with a first full-length since Taiga Remains bowed out. Passage to Morning is some distance from the blown-out drone-out of TR’s Digitalis finale, Wax Canopy, prompting musings as to whether Cobb’s dropping of nom de disque might be symbolic of some new more authentic artistic self. It may be just coincidental with his arriving at his music’s most intimate articulation, but a more personal mode of expression is palpable—with hindsight, prefigured on the Low Point split LP. As if to signal a return to light and quietude, Taiga tempered, Cobb works his Passage into a refined set of sustain ceremonies, harking back to the spatial tumbleweed guitar plumes of Ribbons of Dust. A minimalism of means remains, with a fuller sound palette—signature guitar rubbing up against tape loops and analog synth cycles, drawn out in lambent drone-sprituals redolent of Andrew Chalk and the mesmerism of Mirror.

Source sounds are pared back as if to extract their essence, and drawn along liquid leylines in vapour-tone trails. “The Immediate Past” with its fog of lulling tintinnabulations, suspended like dust motes in light rays; “Wisp,” a waking dream of high plains drift and mute hummings between stasis and ekstasis. “The Habit Body” with its hypnagogue guitar pannings has drawn comparisons to Kyle Bobby Dunn, though texture and trajectory suggest coordinates closer to David Tagg’s Waist Deep Seas of Milk, while “Bewildered by its Blue” has more than a hint of Paul Bradley in its opening sequence, a crepuscular low-end brooding that goes from slow and low to liminal, then silence, before eponymous bewilderment cedes to mood-shift, upwelling from twilight blues to daybreak oceanic feeling. Passage to Morning’s subtly emotive blend of bleary bliss and wooze works its magic cumulatively, expansive swells and harmonized chiming, the odd dissonant turn, tender detour or tape crackle shower making for deeper (g)listening. By passage’s end morning is clearly felt—beautiful, maudlin, rapturous, with the entry of “Landscape Dissolves” into a more ecstatic drono-sphere.

In a world drowning in ambient droning, Alex Cobb’s methods may be familiar, his materials no more than the tropes of the territory, but outcomes are at once reassuring in their genericity while beguilingly sui generis. Visual artist and Cantu-Ledesma colluder, Paul Clipson, offers a sympathetic envisioning below.

Passage to Morning is available now from Students of Decay distributor, Experimedia, vinyl or digital.

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