By Edward Willoughby
Enter a world of mesmerised wonder and dazed stupor in New Zealand based multimedia artist and composer Jesse Woolston’s recent release “µstructure” (Microstructure) in which six very different pieces hold together in a spellbinding way, as his sonic sojourn lures us into unfamiliar territory. Somewhere between meditation, incantation, and an out of body experience, these sounds play with scale, as music emerges from the structures. Adding a layer of visual element to this project, these pieces are accompanied by a photographic series of microscopic images, and as a full experience these sounds relate to the aesthetics and materials used in the images.
This album breathes to life in a celestial glimmer of piano textures lilting and colliding on This Way Comes, as spaces move between, tiny details intersect, and shapes and structures materialise. With bass slapped, then a wavering tremolo against a sheen of synths like plastic wrap, there is a sense of wonderment, of drawing you in to look deeper. Lambent 1 is a shuddering, awe-inspiring moment like an earthquake rippling out in slow motion on some distant landscape in a deep, dark corner of outer space. Like looking through the time-space continuum to somewhere post-human, there is a sensation of weightlessness – as if floating through shards of light in the darkness, with flashes of colour in bowed strings, and a liquid swirl in sparse, meandering piano musings.
In the highly detailed, textured sound of the title track, rhythms suspend precariously in a delicate balance of sounds; a bricolage of sampled gurgles and tics that are at once disjointed and unified. They flicker and chirp around a chanting, pulsating synth texture that is dark and slightly unnerving. Each sound is like a carefully selected specimen with a texture of its own, and together they come to life and play off each other in a way that is as infectious as it is intellectual.
Bathing in a gentle warm glow of synth, strings and horns, Design in Motion is like the eerie glow of a nuclear explosion. Like looking across the horizon of some gaseous planet in slow orbit, the sound is sustained as it shifts and changes form. This is then followed by fragments of piano and fractured motifs in Piano Form, with its sinister tone, like cobwebs catching the light in a deserted factory. The closing track Movement concludes with a sense of familiarity, with its open voiced strings, contemplative piano gently meandering, and hints of woodwinds; a homecoming. With a rustling climax, we are left hanging, before a simple gesture of piano floats by, like a feather gently coming down to rest.
Though there is something very clinical and cold in some of the places Woolston takes us, there is an enduring humanity and grace woven through this music, often living in the warmth of piano textures, and the glow of strings. There is a strong cerebral element, something more conceptual that makes this more than pure aesthetics. There is a sense of structure that unfolds that is altogether deliberate and considered; this is music on a completely different wavelength.