Chiaroscuro is an album of contemporary composition that will be released on 1 July 2020 on Redshift Records. Upon being hooked up w/ a review copy, I didn’t know much about this artist other than that they exist in the same Canadian scene as Nick Storring, whose recent LP My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell I wrote up on this blog when it was released on Orange Milk, my favorite label. I think fans of that LP will find a lot to like in this album, which is being released on CD format.
“Chiaroscuro” is an artistic term that refers to the use of light & shadow in visual works. The titular 30-minute composition certainly sounds like an aural translation of the concept, contrasting lightness & dark to create a piece of music that seems to extrude in three dimensions. I perceive an emphasis on the “dark”, & the near-blackness of the cover art seems to back that theory up. I guess as I write this there is a certain amount of darkness in my own life… it’s the depression that comes naturally to me from a month spent indoors. I live in Texas, not California, so the stay-at-home order issued by Nacogdoches is a lot more flexible than it could be… & in fact I’ve broken it multiple times to stock up on intoxicating substances. In fact it’s my entire quarantine gimmick that I’ve been drinking again!
One night I walked half a mile to the closest drugstore to buy wine; it was like there was a god-damn people convention going down at that CVS – I swear, there were more people out & about on a Friday night than before all this! As I bobbed & weaved through the aisles, my breath vented from the top of my neon green facemask (made by mom 😍) & fogged up my glasses, obscuring my vision. I’ve been to that CVS at least half a dozen times now; if I have COVID-19 at this point, then I have it. I worry about my parents, though… dad visits at least once a week since I’m not able to get groceries on my own. Imagine if mom & dad got coronavirus b/c I have a drinking problem… that’s a pretty dark thought 😢. But where’s the light to contrast it with? Well… I suppose the frequent walks are good for my mental health.
If the titular composition seems to emphasize the darkness, the light shines through again on track 2, “Pulses”, an older composition. This piece is evocative of minimalism & I like it a lot. The music on this album has kind of a grand scope, & it’s making me whip up grand theories… the way I see it, there is an axis that divides all aesthetics… things that are interesting b/c they’re “weird,” vs. things that are interesting b/c they’re “pretty.” This CD by Jordan Nobles is from the totally opposite end of the spectrum than me. I’m weird, but this is pretty. Maybe that was the real “Chiaroscuro” all along.