Review

Rod Modell

Ghost Lights

Astral Industries • 2023

In the lightness lies the heaviness. This apparent contradiction can be found in the work of a number of ambient artists, and in Rod Modell’s music it has found an almost ideal form. The textures he presents on »Ghost Lights« seem densely woven yet light, floating in a dignified slowness for which an earlier word could be used, such as »gravitas«. Measured in this sense is the constant movement of the music as it works its way through layer after layer, shedding them like a snake does its skin, while inexorably manoeuvring into the next. Each of the four tracks on this double album lasts pretty much exactly seventeen and a half minutes, and the tracks always follow a similar progression: high, soft, bright tones that dominate some passages give way to more diffuse, muted sounds – or vice versa. Incidentally, the »ghost lights« referred to in the title are not meant to evoke anything esoteric, but are optical phenomena like the Hessdalen lights, which sometimes move across the night sky in Norway and have been mistaken for UFOs by imaginative observers. Rod Modell’s music can be experienced in a similarly mysterious and otherworldly way. It doesn’t scare anyone; rather, the language it speaks is one of consolation, with a touch of melancholy mixed in.