Label: Students of Decay
Marble Sky was the moniker under which chameleonic nomad Jeff Witscher, best known for his work as Rene Hell, recorded his most intimate and contemplative music. The material that comprises this eponymous 2xLP was originally released in the late aughts as short-run cassettes—highly coveted and personal releases that imparted mystery and a strange sense of hermetic romanticism. Although Witscher’s musical sensibilities are remarkably diverse, what remains consistent in all his projects is an idiosyncratic knack for composition and a boundless capacity for ingenuity. Indeed, his work has inspired as many imitators as it has ardent completists. “Pulling up Grass Under a Blanket” opens the set and is a prime example of Marble Sky’s brand of profoundly affecting outsider ambient. Fragile, bucolic tones hover like dust motes in the morning sun, subtended by tape hiss that threatens, but never quite manages, to consume them. “Lea; Crossed Eyes” gazes similarly skyward, slowly building to an awe-inspiring, monolithic drone. Viewed from the present, these recordings can be seen as the distillation of an important and uniquely tender movement in American experimental music, documented largely by West Coast tape labels such as Ekhein, Monorail Trespassing, and Witscher’s own now-defunct Callow God. Remastered by James Plotkin and presented for the first time on vinyl, this is the definitive collection of work by one of Jeff Witscher’s most justifiably beloved guises. This deluxe 2xLP edition features photography by Helen Scarsdale and gatefold tip-on jackets.