Jeannine Schulz – Luminous (Polar Seas Recordings, 2021)

I hurt my back and hip yesterday doing nothing in particular, and after an uncomfortable night I decided to have a bath this morning to see if I couldn’t improve my aged condition. They’re something I have only very rarely: indeed after living in my current abode for four years I have not had a single one in my time here before today.

With Spring now forging ahead the day was crystal clear, and the Sun was high and oblique through the bathroom window even as I slipped into the tub. Rays diffused through the frosted glass to twinkle on the water’s surface, refracting to bend into my naked form. In my supine stillness my skin was aglow, an assistant light that bathed and cleansed in its own way as it radiated through flesh and shimmered off the liquid film caught on me above the surface.

With the water temperature perfect and the light framing me I was temporarily lost in suspension, unsure where my skin ended and the water began, where the water ended and the Sun began. The pain was lifted, held in the same antigravity as my corporeal form.

Getting on with my day and enjoying the rest of the sunshine I found myself drawn back to Schulz’s Luminous, whose guitar-led ambiences flicker and hum in delightfully radiant movements, carving their way through the darkness that is nature’s default state. It works in the way its strings waver and oscillate, navigating through an uncertain realm, occasionally peeking through in brief stints of clarity as some sort of suggestion of path and place is unveiled.

Its idiosyncrasies are established right from beautiful opener “River” as chords turn back and forth, twinkling on and then reversing as time struggles to coalesce. “Blue” wobbles with an aqueous fluxion too, synth pads gently plodding along to support the tentative wave-structures above. Something of itself can be found again in penultimate “Circle IV”, which almost feels as though it resolves into a clearer image (though more diffuse), drifting along on a lazy bed of cassette fuzz as chords evaporate into drone infinities.

The highlight is perhaps post-median “Zazen” thanks to (as I often remark) the longer runtime it’s afforded over its siblings. Here is looped suspension, a textural foam of a billion photons lightly brushing the senses to converge only on the gentle chords that emerge from the mulch like edifices of skin and muscle that trace forms above the bathwater. Lensing, focus, order derived from chaos.

Light gives meaning to matter, defines shape and opacity and hue, establishes a physical sense and reference to the world. It allows us to perceive ourselves, and sometimes when the moment is right, allows us to ascend from such to escape pain and time.