Marble Sky – Sway (Monorail Trespassing, 2009)

Have you ever gone outside in a strong wind and found yourself fighting to remain upright? At the brow of a hill perhaps, wobbling gently as you intuitively resist the air pressure swirling around you. Or maybe found yourself wading across a stream, body pushing against the steady current and its eddies, stopping briefly to lean into its flow and feel the force against you.

Even when stationary we exert strength, strength to keep us standing, strength to oppose the exogenous powers that strive to sweep us away. Resistance comes to us as easily as breathing and we hardly even acknowledge it. Sometimes we just need to stop and reflect and realise the nature of the pressures upon us, to feel the fight within us, before moving against the flow once more.

Sway¬†is only a short 18 minute cassette, but like all of Jeff’s work as Marble Sky, condensed into just a few releases between ’07-’09, the music speaks volumes. And it throws you in immediately, “Standing Still” an extant landslide of drone textures blasting with radiant energy. It is as overwhelming as it is intoxicating, as static as it is dynamic, filled with hypnotic density and elegiac fervour. This sonic subjection isn’t battery though: the thrilling and thrumming tones move with a fluidic grace and performative drama, slowly diminishing as our eyes and ears begin to adjust to the conditions.

Sophomore “Bell Ringing Softly” picks up from the departing lows of its predecessor, echoing some of the motions of cousin “Lea; Crossed Eyes” elsewhere in his discography. The space here is less oppressive, an opportune moment for more cerebral thought as icebergs of crooning guitar drones move eerily through the mix. Some sense of mechanical, perfunctory action develops in mysterious field recordings towards its centre, breaking the track in two. From then on out the sonic blocks begin to dissolve, melting away from the inhibitions that locked us into place before.

In both cases, the path to progress is marked by diffusion into shimmering splendour, the time spent stationary resetting our visions of the future. The moment of pause and the reminder of the externalities we face reshapes our thinking, provides vigour for our ongoing fight ahead. We mop our brown, and soldier on.