Jon Porras: Light Divide (Thrill Jockey)
Jon Porras is perhaps better known as one half of the drone post-rock project Barn Owl. With Light Divide, Porras shifts his focus away from the often gloomy guitar-focused personality of his Barn Owl collaborations and instead turns his attention toward icy electronica. It’s a sharp deviation compared to 2012’s Black Mesa album, which sounded much more like it evolved out of Barn Owl’s aesthetic. Instead, most of the sounds in Light Divide’s five excursions are cool and synthesized, eschewing the guitar all but completely for a chilly, electronic pulse. While “Apeiron” has a propulsive, deep throb to it that feels grounded in the world of dub techno at first, otherwise many of these tracks are more abstract, with flourishes that suggest dub’s sense of space and depth but without overt nods to pastiche or mere nostalgia.
Instead, Porras seems to really embrace his new toolkit to evoke a completely different mood, one that’s crisp and cool instead of the warmer, more organic and acoustic sounds of his previous material I’ve heard. “Divide” is cool like a faint breeze over moonlight snow, recalling some of the hazy wonders of Tim Hecker’s earlier albums like Haunt Me Haunt Me Do It Again. Fans of that arctic ambience will find much to like here, with most of Light Divide gliding by smoothly like an iceberg. It is the smoother, gloomier underbelly of Barn Owl, without the electroacoustic tension or fury. Instead, Light Divide finds Porras at his most understated and sublime.