Offthesky & Man Watching The Stars:
Issued on Hibernate's sister label Rural Colours, Afar, Farewell isn't the first collaboration with which Jason Corder (aka Offthesky) has been involved, as his discography lists projects with Kinder Scout, Billy Gomberg, Darren McClure, and others. But the idea of collaborating with violinist Brendan Paxton (aka Man Watching The Stars) proves to be a masterstroke. In some respects, the forty-minute album's sound doesn't radically deviate from the ambient-drone template—par for the genre, its five, multi-layered meditations generally unfold at an ultra-slow pace—yet Afar, Farewell ultimately marks out its own individualized space as a result of Paxton's presence.Working from a base of heavily processed guitar and strings, Corder and Paxton layer and shape the sounds with great care and sensitivity; during a typical piece, the pluck of a violin string, a reverberant percussive ping, or a bass tone will emerge from the willowy mass, which at times advances and recedes elegantly rather than hewing to a static, monochrome pitch. The opener “Patience” develops slowly in its first few minutes in accordance with ambient-drone form, but then moves to a whole other level when Paxton's violin enters, its elegiac cry imbuing the music with heartfelt and human qualities. Something similar occurs during “Rime of the Bloodsand Pyre” when the strings separate themselves from gently surging masses suggestive of the lulling ebb-and-flow of the sea's waters. The album's high point, however, arrives at the end when Paxton's violin is most prominently featured in “Farewell, Brother.” From its pizzicati opening to its soaring bowed masses, the piece is a ten-minute, rapturous meditation that one wishes would go on forever. The seasoned manner by which the duo folds one layer into another is truly artful and helps make the recording the standout that it is.