The weird way to worship the sun,
Winter Solstice feels like the perfect time to talk about Jordan Reyes and his album ‘Sand Like Stardust’. Whenever I think of the album, the song titles and the imagery Jordan placed with it, everything calls back to the cycle of the sun. How it rises, how it sets and how the world is shaped by its light. With this experimental mixture of synths, lap guitar and voice, we have one of the more unusual albums of 2020.
Across its 40 minutes, ‘Sand Like Stardust’ uses mainly four instruments. The first is Jordan Reyes’ voice. Several songs feature just Jordan’s voice transferred into samples that are played like long chords. They feel like an off-kilter chant or ohm at times. Usually like the opening track ‘The Pre Dawn Light’, it is quite meditative but on tracks like ‘Dusted’ they can feel strained and a little eerie. The second main instrument is a lap guitar that bends and curls to Reyes’ whim. A large portion of the albums’ style comes from the Wild West twangs of the desert being played in an experimental context. Take ‘A Grain Of Sand’. It is a quiet beat, tiny synth jangles and a repeating lap guide slide. A few tracks devolve into this mantra of repeating riffs to create an alien sunrise or sunset. Some work better than others but in general, it is a captivating listen.
Synths play a heavy role in the second half of the album as organs or sci-fi infused synth pads seep into the mix. They often play a backup role to the guitar but it is the synths and vocals that shift the mood of the guitar. Together they take something we feel is grounded and shift it to sound eerie, uplifting, dry or synthetic. It is cleverly done and along with the fourth instrument of brass, Jordan Reyes revels in the experimental ambience he creates. The brass, whilst usually played softly enough, is played slightly out of step to the main melodies and so it creates a foreboding dissonance in the music – such as the evocative ‘Rebirth at Dusk’.
The whole album reminds me of Phillip Glass but in a good way. Jordan Reyes takes simple motifs or structures and plays at ways to make the familiar seem unusual. The way how he describes the tracks feels like we experience the sun in a 24 hour cycle as the darker night track rumble and unfurl to revel more celebratory ritualistic praise pieces for the new day. It is clever but not for everyone. It took me a few listens to really click with what was going on in the music. You have to really be in the mood to let it wash over you and even then it can be a difficult listen at times. I cannot deny that its an intriguing oddity though and it’ll be one that is a grower not a shower. Not quite drone, not quite electronica and not quite world music either – this is one for the music weirdos… and if you are reading this blog, you are likely one of them. Enjoy.
Recommended track: High Noon
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