Sunday, 10 November 2013

Discovery: Jon Siddall - One


Simple but effective; less is more; the positive areas lie in the negative space. These are just a few oxymoron-like comments that music - eve before the age of modern equipment and much-used recordin techniques - have practiced for some hundreds of years. A unique advancement to that then is music's continuing prowess in using simplicity, and in effect the power of minimalism, to strike this particular field of creativity as one of the most invitive and responsive of art forms that has ever been. There are few forms of expressive output that can say that with the stroke of a mere handful of musical notes, one can make their audience leap in joy or collapse into tears - the power of minimalism is as important as the exhuberence of any grand display of composition or orchestration. It's particularly pleasant that a name such as Jon Siddall pops up and with it we have the perfect opportunity to see how a more stripped-back approach to music composite can work to both the artist's as well as the listener's benefit. One, the latest album by Vancouver's self-confessed 'slow music' maker, may not be the most invocative or immediate of pieces to date. But it is one of the more questioning and speculative of opportunities to really challenge the belief and skepticism of modern classical and instrumental performances.

Simply put, One works in very much the same way an art exhibition invites its audience in; casting voided stretches of white walls from every side; the floor perhaps a smooth, sleek, textureless surface. And amidst it all, at its centre, the main component - the subject, the concept, the finished piece. But this isn't indulgent material, Siddall's methods feel more inviting and warming than any gallery installation. The stretching, coiling figurement of guitars on Dreamy Around definitely come off as far from isolating - tiny pockets of lead and bass guitar strings poking at the vast space but having the kind of welcome presence a campfire flame posesses. Likewise, Remember's shift from guitar to piano makes no attempt to move away from the same lengthening trail of echo that is left in the instruments' solitary wake. And with this, the effect of reflection, of lonely reflection yes, becomes even more empowering.

But it's the dizzying, shifting tones on final track Reveal that, like its name suggests, opens up an even greater potential into how its listener is both meant and offered to experience such delicate simplicities in a surrounding that feels tense, but nowhere near declaring of an assumptive 'dark' or perhaps 'dangerous' context. Perhaps I'm speaking too much with the [visual] art cap still glued to my scalp; perhaps I'm alluding to more than what the artist has originally intended. But the point still stands that One, even at its thirty-six minute length, still leaves the listener lingering on the potential to see beyond just the convention of what's already in front of their ears...but so too with their eyes. Jon Siddall seems to speculate rather than accumilate with his compositions, and in result, creates one of those dynamic opposing moments where minimum and maximum collide in a kind of vaccuumous explosion whereby the after-effect is more powerful than the original preceeding it. One is available now.
~Jordan Helm

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