Release Date: 2015 March 21
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Self-Release / Cyan Netlabel
Jaja: Starfields is possibly one of the longest, single releases to be reviewed on this website this year, clocking in at over 2 hours in length. (However, it doesn’t take the record for the longest single release since Ergo Phizmiz will probably always hold that record with the 14 hour long Faust Cycle.) What is stunning about this work is Jana Rockstroh’s statement that this album “just happened”. How is it that this massive album just happened? Let’s talk about that.
Artists are always experimenting with their tools. Whether it is a painting working with new brushes, paints, or other media, a writer experimenting with different narrative forms, changing their vocabulary, or trying to understand how a character will think or feel. And so on for each of the creative fields that we engage in as human beings.
When it comes to musicians, there are many things that they can play with: the type of instrument they use, the style of music they are writing / performing, the arrangement for a particular piece. In Jana’s case it was the instrument configuration, and the types of sounds that she found herself working with. The result is this seven track behemoth of tranquility that one can immediately get lost in.
The deep expansive sound fields, and sharp shimmering embellishments of this work reach a level of intimacy that is often lost in ambient recordings today. Not that other works are excellent, however there is something to the improvised nature of these explorations that take on another dimension. They come from the internal calmness of the composer, and it is definitely something that can reach the audience by simply allowing themselves to be immersed in the sounds.
This is actually not an easy thing to accomplish. Jana has managed to find a configuration of instruments that allow her to communicate something deeper about herself, and about her view of the world (or in this case space), while connecting with her listeners. Most artists strive to be able to work on this level with varying degrees of success. Jaja: Starfields proves that it can be done to a level beyond many artists expectations for themselves.
Jaja: Starfields is a recording that many artists only hope they can achieve. Jana Rockstroh has found an instrument configuration and sound palette that made it possible to reach deeply within herself to communicate a calmness that we can only hope to achieve with years of practice and meditation. This is a work that is more pure and shimmering than any crystalline sounds, and deeper than any of the bass notes of it’s sound fields.