March 10, 2004

Clear Horizon "Clear Horizon"

The last year or two has seen a rise in the popularity of post office albums. Some of them are excellent--witness the Postal Service's Give Up--and some of them aren't--helloooo Go Back Snowball! Most of them suffer from having two distinct identities; one person will think of an idea and the other will think of another, but as they're doing them apart from each other, it's not really a "collaboration" as it is a garnishing of ideas. But as the Postal Service demonstrated, when it's done right, you'd never know that the artists weren't in the same studio at the same time.

Clear Horizon is an international collaboration between Bristol-based Flying Saucer Attack mastermind David Pearce and Michican's atmospheric folkie Jessica Bailiff. For the past two years, the two musicians collaborated by sending tapes across the Atlantic. It's good to take into account the passing of time, because the album sounds like a well-crafted work of drone-pop that was made by two people sitting together side by side in the studio, plucking and tweaking away at this or that. It's a well-focused work; there's not a bum note in the lot, and it's surprisingly cohesive.

Music-wise, Clear Horizon is closer in style to Bailiff's style than Pearce's; there's no loud, reverb-laden drone to be found. Even though it does get a little noisy in places--such as Pearce's gorgeous "Millenium Blues"--the mood is subtle, relaxed, tranquil. Bailiff's never really made much of an impression on me with her solo records, but this collaboration's cast her in a new light. Her voice travels in and out of the waves of sonic bliss on songs like "Distortion Song," "Sunrise Drift" and "For Days," at times becoming ghost-like, mixing into the music without overwhelming the senses.

Clear Horizon is an interesting, rewarding collection of droned-out rock, and it's even more exciting to know that the two are planning to actually record together soon. It is a fine record that shines brightly upon both Pearce and Bailiff's respective discographies. Best of all, there's nothing here that smacks of a one-off. If their collaborations together prove to be as productive as the ones from a distance, then this album's a mere promise of greatness to come

--Joseph Kyle

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