Loscil Plume

[Kranky; 2006]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: minimal techno, ambient electronic, drone
Others: Tim Hecker, Gas, Biosphere, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Jan Jelinek, Oval

Plume is a quintessential example of what Kranky has to offer — complexity through subtlety and vice-versa. Once a one-man project of Scott Morgan, Loscil has flourished into an ensemble effort that combines something premeditated with masterful improvisation. His previous album, First Narrows, introduced other performers into Morgan's muted world, and the structure of each piece was created by the tight editing of their performances. This time, he has again laid down simple themes and mechanical rhythms for his group to improvise over, but he has chosen not to edit, allowing each piece to unfold naturally and letting the players determine the direction of the music.

Backdrops for each piece consist of hushed electric pulses that are eerie and sound more automated than the result of any human decision. As though the players have all gathered around to jam with a percussionist who whispers the beats, Rhodes piano, vibes, xylophone, and ebow guitars meld together in a kind of improvisation that doesn't involve soloing, but rather blending in to perpetuate a greater feature in the music. They extract things buried deep inside Morgan's dead machine electronics that, once brought to the surface, work in minimalist fashion, gradually adding and subtracting from what they've created.

Plume is humbled by its players' subtlety, and although they're each going through their own self-sustained process, their instruments intertwine beautifully with one another, making their individuality invisible. With the modesty behind each performance, the smallest note or rhythmic change can add entirely new layers and change the direction of each piece. It's a testament to the group improvisation and successfully combines visceral sonic landscapes with the most finite of sounds. Understated majesty has always been the overriding feeling of Loscil's music, and with each subsequent release, Scott Morgan is finding a different process to get us there.

1. Motoc
2. Rorschach
3. Zephyr
4. Steam
5. Chinook
6. Bellows
7. Halcyon
8. Charlie
9. Mistral

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