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Jahiliyya Fields - Unicursal Hexagram

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Artist: Jahiliyya Fields

Album: Unicursal Hexagram

Label: L.I.E.S.

Review date: Aug. 15, 2012

Not sure what the deal is behind Jahiliyya Fields, though I can guess: it’s on Ron Morelli’s label (the first release on L.I.E.S. that’s not a dance-oriented 12”), and one of the tracks is the score to a 16mm film by visual artist/righteous man Steve Cossman, so that narrows it down a bit. There are a lot of amateurs out there pulling their dicks out now that they got a synthesizer and a sequencer, but very few who seem to know what to do with it now that they’re hanging brain. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Insofar as the expected “fuck or fight” response, J. Fields (who is this person? Jason Letkiewicz? Kris D? Aurora H.? The facilities manager at the Body Actualized Center?) is definitely in the “fuck” column, but more like “fuckkkkkkk … that’s heavy.”

The new-nu-age rotisserie spins slowly to engender further listener involvement, in a novel way for this time and age: Jahiliyya Fields is not so much an environment builder, as is so much of the lazy conceptual hang of most artists in this field, who want you to think about the enormity of space or the pressurized terror of the sea. Rather, the tracks here depict specific energies attuned to sound waves, and use the controls of the synths and the hand of the editor and tastefully-used percussive breaks to paint those imprints onto the cosmic circuit.

These six polyphonic analog synth-based instrumentals start out (along with the album) as somewhat of a demonstration, but become more complex as they roll on – take something like “Ocean Mom,” which begins with those big, wet low-end tweak synth cycles like you’d hear on the Suspiria soundtrack, then goes deeper, through several feet of silt and aquatic muck, all while pushing the background oscillations toward some kind of bigger truth. What I like about it (and the others here) is that the track uses non-musical reference points in a way that builds outward, not intending to create atmosphere but simply place the listener near this model of alien intellect for the two to examine one another.

Careful editing adds some punch to the tracks on the second LP, like on that soundtrack piece, entitled “White Cabbage,” a time-shifting/digitally edited pulse race that sounds like nothing less than the future us children of the 20th century had imagined, and is a high point in a record full of them.

It’s great to hear someone approach the concept of synth-based new age music with other goals in mind, and it’s even better to hear a record in the canon that doesn’t immediately identify with all of the most common signposts. This one’s a mind expander for sure, and is universally (unicursally?) recommended to those who’ve grown weary of the standard “profound/space is deep” approach to this music.

By Doug Mosurock

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