Well, this took everyone by surprise, including the label! At the beginning of this month with little to no fanfare, Jessica Bailiff gently offered At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky to everyone before scurrying away again. It’s Jessica’s first album in six years, undoubtedly her most expansive work yet, and honestly, her best to date.
For the uninitiated, as Bailiff won’t be gracing the covers of any New York Mags anytime soon because the world is unjust and jacked, her dusty stack of home recordings first saw daylight after befriending Low‘s Alan Sparhawk, who welcomed Jessica into the Kranky family. Since then, Bailiff released four full-lengths of spooky fuzz folk and collaborated with a roster that basically reads as a who’s who on the hitmakers list: Flying Saucer Attack, Rivulets, Odd Nosdam, Casino Vs Japan, Boduf Songs… badasses, the lot of ‘em.
Jessica’s last album, 2006′s Feels Like Home, coupled light touches of rural psychedelia and ominous slowcore-shaped folk into a heady, beautiful listening experience. The crystalline new effort provokes a much more hopeful and luminescent atmosphere; her whispy, melodic, reverberated vocals hovering over cavernous, atmospheric folk painting the canvas of the deep still just before the break of dawn. Grouper owes Jessica no small debt of gratitude, #realtalk. ”Take Me To The Sun” masterfully balances the somber and uplifting with a haunting, soaring three minute light flight into territories both known and mysterious, as washes of eerie echoes and rumbling, sludgy, intricately fuzzed textures wash the lingering fog away.
Forgive the flowery language please, but this song, and At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim as whole, provide a moving experience. One of the year’s best, and I hope that doesn’t go unnoticed. What an excellent surprise.
At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim is available now on Kranky.