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Rameses III - Jozepha

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Artist: Rameses III

Album: Jozepha

Label: Celebrate Psi Phenomenon

Review date: Jun. 16, 2005

The music on Jozepha is almost perfectly still. Stretched as if a map, the acoustic guitar intonations and organ drones work in accordance with the principle of inertia, moving only when pushed in a certain direction. Jozepha tends to drift rather than march, but its movements are rapturous. (Since releasing Jozepha at the end of last year, Rameses has released another EP entitled Parsimònia, on the Foxy Digitalis label.)

London-based Rameses III combines the subtleties of Americana with languorous drones and ambient sounds. At times, each guitar note seems to emanate from beneath an invisible surface, lingering for a few moments only to drop back down and be replaced by another. Much like Bruce Langhorne’s superb soundtrack to The Hired Hand, made in 1971 but only released last year, the music is a conduit for sentiment or scene that couldn’t be conveyed in another way. But if Rameses III knowingly communes with the ghost of John Fahey, it also harnesses some of the same spectacular, solemn empathetic power of Mark Hollis.

The six songs on Jozepha, all instrumental except for a short lyrical interjection on “Love Goes On,” have the quality of quiet sketches, inasmuch as the sounds seem primordial, extant beyond the end and beginning of each piece. The acoustic guitar picking on “The Tidal Draw” creeps across four chords, occasionally accompanied by what sounds like a swelling harmonica note. For a moment, the picking is more frantic and the accompaniment more insistent, but the change is only half-completed and the song suddenly ends with a few more lone guitar notes. Sounds are not often fully developed, resolution is rarely offered.

Jozepha is not formally complex, communicating via a montage of acoustic images and sparse, melancholic soundscapes. Beyond evocation, the images hint at a way of remembering and experiencing reminiscent of Chris Marker’s seminal short film La Jetee. In Marker’s film, the main character’s memory is mined through a photographic montage, suggesting that he has, as we all do, experienced and remembered the events of his life as a series of iconographic images that become stand-ins for actual events. Marker’s montage does not attempt to ‘fill in the gaps’ in recollection, but concentrates on the fragility of those images and the potent spaces between them.

Rather than referencing or evoking anything specific, the songs on Jozepha become the equivalent of pieces of time themselves – ways of remembering.

By Alexander Provan

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