Rarely does an artist make a deep sense of uncertainty seem like a powerful creative statement but that's what Randall Frazier has done throughout his time making music with his long-standing project Orbit Service. Popular music reflects the projected self-identity of the culture from which it spawns and thus much of it is rife with bravado and firm declarations of emotion whether love, anger, self-affirmation or joy. Those certainties are called into question in the loose narrative arc of the new Orbit Service album, Dreamless (2021).
Each song is like reading a lost diary entry you don't want to revisit which contain truths you have to confront eventually. Not the dramatic uncomfortable realities that are relatively easy to take on but the kinds that force you to contend with the validity of the bedrock of your sense of self, your system of values, your aspirations and dreams. The slowly uncoiling melodies cast in spare, drifting, comforting, evolving labyrinths of sound, shaped in no small part by elegantly evocative guitar work by Erik Drost of The Dustbombers/The Legendary Pink Dots fame, make this process almost easier to bear and experience as it also seems inevitable.
Think Pink Floyd's darkest passages if the words were informed by the realization that everything you've been clinging onto so tightly to weather the worst times in your life is inadequate and that it's necessary to let go of the last strands of ego to have any chance of making any sense of where you need to go. Further that maybe you really have no control over such things or much of anything in the end. This kind of thinking is alien to the Western consciousness and that struggle to reconcile the validity of individual experience and existence with the folly of a common human desire to impose one's will on the world around us plays out in eight parts.
The luminous haze drifting through each song is punctuated by organic, measured beats that render Frazier's existential musings into psycho-spiritual couplets to ease the mind into a Zen-like state of acceptance of uncertainty. Rather than despair at not having ultimate and solid answers to big questions, Randall Frazier once again seems to articulate so well how it's important not to get bogged down by thinking you can attain even a persistent wisdom and enlightenment when your life and the world is in a constant state of change.