Jessica Moss is known best as the violinist, co-composer, and backing vocalist with the acclaimed chamber-punk band Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (SMZ) and the avant-klezmer group Black Ox Orkestar. From 2001 to 2014 SMZ made six albums and
toured extensively - as the band went on hiatus, Moss began performing solo work,
leading to mesmerizing solo appearances at ATP Festival, Le Guess Who? and the
Montr al Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. In 2015 she self-released the
cassette Under Plastic Island (recorded with Guy Picciotto of Fugazi). Pools Of Light is her first full-length solo album.
Comprised of two side-length multi-movement compositions, Pools Of Light unfolds at
a stately, inexorable pace, combining sound-art and signal-processed timbres,
extended melodic and contrapuntal lines, and the periodic deployment of stark,
minimalist vocals. "Entire Populations" is a 24-minute tour de force that comprises
Side One, opening with gently blown-out solo violin layering a maqam- and klezmerinflected theme that gradually recedes to near-silence as vocals are introduced, with Moss singing a single phrase (anchored by the song's title) which builds up anew in careening stacked vocal loops, towards a majestic juxtaposition of dive-bombing electronics and strident melodic string excursions, ending in a tender scorched-earth denouement. "Glaciers I" and "Glaciers II" on Side Two are more explicitly textural and cinematic, moving between minimalist and maximalist, widescreen and intimate, ice and heat; a highly compelling suite of drone-inflected, nuanced and subtly plaintive instrumental pieces.