Josef Gaard, Obsidian Falls EP

Blake Gillespie

It’s all love in the Pacific Northwest electronic scene. From an outsider perspective there’s a modest but crucial community that views a two-state region as its stomping ground. And while, each subset of the greater community has their own collective or label or monthly party or even festival, it does not result in the carving of turf. It is with that mindset that we find Seattle’s Secondnature co-curator Josef Gaard’s Obsidian Falls EP on the Portland label Blankstairs.

Gaard’s ilk of electronic music positions itself between two monoliths, one being techno and the opposite ambient. The Obsidian Falls EP muses through central space like a bouncing ball in a game of Pong. Opener “Perennial” feels built from the magnified crash of rainwater droplets against wood, hand drumming lurks within, and it results in an organic house track, like Gaard explored an abandoned mansion on a grey day, recording his intrusion and disruption on the foundation. Whereas the eponymous offering ascends the techno monolith with a hard chisel to an ominous knell. The Obsidian Falls EP in its physical format is tempered by sides, but digitally it is a factory of sometimes cataclysmic production.  Alone, “Elysea” is a prodding crescendo towards disturbance, the anxiety is almost unnerving, but heard in succession with “Obsidian Falls” its arrival feels inevitable, as though Gaard has us strapped to a chair, our eyes pinned open, and he’s making us watch him at work. As organic, ambient, and primitive (see also: visceral) as Gaard’s work feels, at least upon entry, the duration of the Obsidian Falls EP is dismantling an unknown something with each passing phase. By “Fjord” the alterations are complete, a soothing hum of progress is in order, and we believe in the necessity of change, despite the whisper of doom in our silenced psyche.

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