Marielle V Jakobsons is back with a second full length album under her real name. It’s called Star Core. It’s both sharper and far more expansive than her debut, but shares the same otherworldly tenor that could never be mistaken for anyone else.
Exploring far beyond the puzzle dream landscapes of 2012’s Glass Canyons, the album opens like an orchestra warming up on some distant asteroid, slowly hurtling into view.
An organ hum gathers chiming tones, weary violins, and something that feels truly new in this context. Ethereal female vocals appear right on the first track, floating between ping-ponging synth tones on an extended, atmospheric coda. It’s called White Sparks and she made a video for it. As in, she made it herself.
As I pass into the second song, I’m beginning to feel something familiar. Over a sparkling arpeggio, violins duck and weave, grabbing the audible spotlight. But the way those dusty arpeggios slowly unravel is reminding me of something deep in memory, intangible, warm, and only half forgotten.
I’m lost in a whirlwind of granular beauty with this music, somehow classically tactile and overwhelmingly gauzy at once. I’m immediately at ease with the more song-like approach to the pieces here. They’re as seamless and cohesive as before, yet breathe with distinct lives of their own. It makes the experience feel much larger than its 37 minutes suggest.
While the vocals are the most obvious new addition, the bulk of the tracks are dominated by sawing synth waves, desert-tinged strings, and a suite of intimate woodwinds. Electronics and ancient instruments mix with effortless cool, eradicating all sense of time and place.
The album climaxes with Undone, a celestial drone reincarnation of the blues, featuring Jakobsons’ most striking vocal performance of the album. Her cool, echoed deadpan finally connects the dots in my mind: this feels like Spacemen 3 in the best way. My heart swells with the same sense of spiritual gravity.
The slow motion bass glows with a narcotic warmth, and suddenly the song goes weightless, floating on crystalline arpeggios as the low end rumble fades. It’s a microcosm of what makes his material such a leap from her already startling debut. There’s both a grounded sense of traditional melody and a more adventurous range of timbres and tones. It’s that rare magic trick of a second album, feeling both more approachable and more experimental than the work that came before it.
After this centerpiece eruption, the album exits through a massive, elegaic slab of flute-laden drone that feels like a spiritual echo of the Arvo Pärt masterpiece Fratres. It’s a fittingly angelic send-off for this brief but powerful set, twinkling as it leaves, a satellite moving beyond radio contact.
Here’s Star Core streaming in full:
Jakobsons recently developed a “macro-cymatic instrument,” a device that translates analog sound into water and light. She used it to create the liquid starscape on the cover art as well as the entire music video seen above. I’m ending with information to emphasize the personalized scope and ambition of the project. It’s more than just an avant-garde excursion for music nerds like me. This is profoundly affecting music that looks toward some of the greats of modern composition.
The album can be purchased digitally right from Marielle V Jakobsons via Bandcamp or on CD or vinyl from label Thrill Jockey.