Colorfield Records, an independent LA-based label, seems to have found its niche in the ever-sprawling ecosystem that is modern jazz. With artists like Mark Giuliana and Larry Goldings on their roster, the label offers sanctuary to jazz artists of the first order to experiment and to make music that extends beyond the generic conventions implied by the word ‘jazz.’ OHMA, the duo of guitarist Mia Garcia and saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, are a recent addition to their catalogue, and their debut release, Between All Things, is a meaningful contribution that is well aligned with the fringe aesthetic of Colorfield Records.
Between All Things is an apt name for this album since it seems to graciously absorb so many different influences and styles within its ambit. Still, the vibe is ever consistent and the album could perhaps best be described as a contemporary new-age/ambient work with flourishes of jazz, electronica, and hip-hop.
Between All Things stands out as a distinctly organic project. The album is drenched in earthy overtones and the liner notes make explicit mention of the ‘orchestra of nature’ as a central point of reference for this record. The album opener, “Seeing Beyond What is Here,” is a plaintive number that sets the listener in lush sonic terrain that unfolds much like a flower in bloom. Following the cadences of natural cycles, the album ebbs and flows from soundscape to soundscape, and in the process treads some truly stunning ground.
Being primarily an ambient work, the album employs a sonic spectrum that is far and wide. As two multi-instrumentalists, Niswanger and Garcia make artful use of a broad instrumental palette incorporating flutes, analog synths, guitars, vintage drum machines, acoustic percussion, a felted upright piano, and layers of woodwind and brass among many others. The marriage of synthetic elements and organic textures creates a compelling atmosphere that evokes the soundscapes of Jon Hassell, Four Tet, Floating Points, Tortoise, etc. Between All Things lends itself to contemplation and thus demands a certain headspace to be fully enjoyed, so let us hope the 9th of September, the day the album is due to release, is suitably low-key and introspective.