Friday, September 26 2014
Like most of Silent Season’s beautifully decorated releases, Pacifica is consumed by nature—immense, enveloping nature. It’s a tendency common in dub techno: the never-ending quest to capture the sublime. Of course, in the search to encapsulate the rumblings of the planet and the vast shifting of the tides, a lot of it ends up sounding stuffy and self-serious. But with the opener of Canadian producer Jordan Sauer’s fourth album, it’s immediately obvious that his approach is a little more down to earth than most. “West Coast Rain” eases the album into a lush landscape that’s every bit as awe-inspiring, yet strangely inviting, as the incredible scene pictured on the cover.
Part of the reason that Pacifica feels so unusually welcoming is melody—the album oozes with it right from the outset. Sauer is totally divorced from the genre’s usual mood of big, ominous melodies that seem to stretch on forever; he prefers more compact chord progressions to frame his moving vignettes. The filtered lead on “Honest and Truly,” for example, satiates into a pleasant blur of warmth that recalls The Field more than Basic Channel.
That said, Pacifica doesn’t completely do away with its dub techno roots. There are DeepChord-like experiments in artificial rain conjuring, like “La Rue,” which later pans upwards to a twinkling sky of beautiful synth work. Nimble basslines keep more conventional moments like “Parchment” from resting on their laurels too long. Every track has some sort of surprise in waiting, like the tribal touches that pull the floaty chords of “Snow Dub” down to tactile soil, or the swelling organ jubilee of penultimate track “Ocean.”
An LP that sounds comfortable above all else, the innovation that Segue achieves is of a humble sort. There’s a distinct sense of humility in its relatively short duration and homely demeanor. As a born resident of the Canadian West Coast, I’m more than familiar with the natural splendour that inspired Pacifica. The area’s spectacular landscape carries a unique blend of unfathomable prehistoric scale and alluring atmosphere. Sauer conveys it expertly and without so much as a stretch or a strain. What makes Pacifica so great is that, instead of trying to imitate oceans or tectonic plates with earth-shaking vibrations, it captures the warming satisfaction of taking a stroll through a well-worn forest or park that you already know and love.