The work Jon Porras creates as one half of Barn Owl has a way of suggesting elements of doom metal and dark sludgy fare without ever stepping too explicitly into those realms. All of the subhuman angst and white-knuckled dread that come to life via guitars, crashing drums, or even caustic noise textures in the hands of other bands are relayed in the form of lengthy drones when Barn Owl present their sounds, and often these more ambiguous presentations result in clearer articulations of feeling. The same type of genre implications came through with the Americana-suggesting soundscapes of Porras' second solo album, 2012's Black Mesa. That album's rich, wordless expansions summoned up images of dusty deserts and glowing arid plains at dusk. Third album Light Divide moves away from the desert themes of its predecessor, tending toward a more throbbing electronic approach, and this time presenting all the isolation and coldness of minimal techno in the same understated manner that his last album hinted at the sounds of the lonesome drifter. Again, nothing is ever on the surface. The pulse of album opener "Apeiron" isn't a punchy 808 kick, but a deeply submerged woof, buried deep in the mix and gluing together shards of delay-bathed synths and percussive pops of reverb. The menace that comes through in the space between sounds on early Plastikman tracks can be found in a different voicing on the sparse crumbling beats of "Divide" or the drawn-out ambience of any of the five songs that make up the album. Clicking, disembodied percussion calls to mind the tin-can rhythms of German minimalist producer Pole. Light Divide succeeds, as all of Porras' work does, by never making any bold moves toward an emulation of any given style, but rather filtering various emotional currents through his own uniquely cloudy lens. The result is an electronic album that sounds nothing like electronic music, and manages to relate complex, well-crafted moods with a deceptively spare sonic palette.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas