Absorption Line is the second outing of Nine Stone Close leader Adrian Jones and his partner in crime Michel Simons. Where previous album; The Path Of Least Existence (2013, see review) was completely instrumental, the successor is divided in two vocal tracks and five instrumentals. On Absorption Lines, Jet Black Sea explores the horizons they were heading for during the previous release. Only this time the musical sphere has broadened and it seems to be impossible to point out the directions the music is going. Nevertheless Jet Black Sea have still managed to create a comprehensive album filled with progressive music in the most extreme form.
Wrong Turn sets off the album with prominent electronic drums and spherical guitar parts. Elements of space rock and poly rhythmic drumming create a nice intuitive pallet of sounds, very sound scape style. The following The Sixth Wheel is a real slow starter, it talks over two minutes before the atmospheric keyboards turn into a more progressive rhythmic composition. Help on this track comes from Pieter Van Hoorn of Knight Area fame on drums and Riversea's Brendan Eyre on keyboards. What stands out on this track is the strong and powerful base and the fine diffused solos that contrast, but at the same time are really coherent. Jumping To A Conclusion is a minor sound scape where the guitar tends to veer towards a Calexico style of music. The longest track on the album is also the title track; Absorption Lines. Spoken words that sound if they came from Houston Space Control are accompanied by post rock distorted sounds and a subtle melody underneath. Resulting in another spheric, space influenced extended sound scape. On Cathedral, both earlier mentioned Van Hoorn and Eyre return and are joined by bass player Paul Van Zeeland and Nine Stone Close vocalist Adrian O'Shaughnessy. Although the bulk of the song still is instrumental and very atmospheric, the vocals are the element that turn the song into a more accessible one. The same goes for the following Hours Slip Into Days, where Tony Patterson joins Jones and Simons as a vocalist. Personally, this track, which is piano driven and enhanced with a deep, whispering voice and sees a marvellous guitar solo at the end, is my favourite track of the CD. The Houston conversation continues on the final track; 133 Hours. A smooth and meandering end of the album.
If you are expecting an album like Adrian's Nine Stone Close albums, just forget it. Musically Jet Black Sea is completely different. Nevertheless I would advise you to listen to the other side of Adrian Jones, for his compositions are neat and his guitar playing impeccable. Like the previous Jet Black Sea album, keywords are atmospheric and spacey with hunches of post rock. The additional vocal parts are the divine finishing touch.
****+ Thomas Rhymer (edited by Dave Smith)
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