Album of the Week: Clear Horizon (2003)

I’ve not delved into much music by the British band Flying Saucer Attack, but I tend to trust anything released by Kranky, the superb American label that delivered masterpieces by Stars of the Lid, Labradford, Windy & Carl and so on.

Clear Horizon was the collaborative project of Flying Saucer Attack’s David Pearce and Kranky recording artist Jessica Bailiff. By all accounts, the artists created the project by sending each other tapes across the Atlantic in the early 2000s, without recording in the same room.

For me, this is one of those albums where the first track is the best. “Watching the Sea” is some ascension type shit, all blissed-out guitar and sweet singing. I love this song.

“I wonder why you haven’t seen the light for days,” Bailiff sings on “For Days”. And there is a hermitic vibe to this album, everything cavernous, moving at a slow pace. The song structure fades into feedback, transitioning into ambient washes that sound more like Fennesz than any singer-songwriter project.

“Sunrise Drift” is the first song to float along with no rhythmic guitar strumming, just vocals and chimes in an ether of white noise. It’s meditative music. This stuff requires patience to be appreciated, and a more critical ear might deride this album for lack of direction. And it’s not all brilliant, of course. “Death’s Dance” in particular seems more unpleasant than enjoyable. But mostly, Clear Horizon is gorgeous and relaxing, and a forgotten gem.

Listen to Clear Horizon here.

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