Loscil Sketches From New Brighton

[Kranky; 2012]

Styles: ambient, techno, experimental, drone
Others: Mohn, Tim Hecker

Like a breath, Loscil’s soundscapes enter the scene pulsating, weaving. Sketches From New Brighton is meant to soundtrack expansive, enrapturing environments in which the listener is but a speck in the larger whole of the scenery and, ultimately, nature. Scott Morgan’s understanding of this Jack London-esque concept is what makes him so dynamic and his music so beautiful. There is always a feeling of existential dread that accompanies a Loscil album — perhaps a feeling of hopelessness and marginalization. The tracks unfold slowly and methodically with incidentals that seem to pierce through fog. This method of unfolding, revealing through cyclical yet vaporous composition, makes the feeling of dread make sense. Humanity, a lone person, is obscured, drowned out, but is nonetheless still there.

There is a new iciness dwelling within Sketches From New Brighton that is different from his past works, which were frustratingly similar in tone and in construction. Warm tones complemented by cold textures and incidentals make this album seem unapproachable, but it’s in fact this very interaction that makes it approachable, obtainable. Whereas Loscil’s past works have been more expansive and vague or microscopic in form, this album is fully interactive, with a pulse that feels like a warm human breath. Maybe that is what makes it so tangible: the fact that it mimics the breath and the permeation of air throughout the body. The breath is life. Loscil finds the connection — or at least participates in the connections — between life and death by exploring the breath, the provider of life. This album is desperate, once again like a tale from Jack London. There is no way out, only through the fog or the overwhelming girth of terrain: nature is all encompassing. The chord changes throughout the album are mysterious and dramatic, swelling out of nothing to paint the sheer mass of nature.

The lack of involvement in nature is what makes Sketches From New Brighton both terrifying and underwhelming. In all of its massiveness, the album lacks a true disparity. It is ambient in that it only fills space and watches interactions within that space, never informing it. And that’s why the album works: it is indifferent to the man drifting to the bottom of a lake thrashing lethargically for life, for breath.

Links: Loscil - Kranky

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