Loscil is a one man electronica project from
Vancouver. It is the alter-ego of Scott Morgan, who is the drummer
in the band Destroyer.
Another member of that band works with The
New Pornographers in his spare time, and so Loscil is sort
of the evil twin sibling of that band. While Bejar is off playing
alt-country with Neko Case, his drummer Morgan is programming
deep listening music on a computer somewhere. A strange breakdown
of side projects, really. Anyway, i reviewed Loscil's 2001 release
a while back. I really liked that album. It was a good combination
of mellow beats and washed out drones, all covered in a thick
layer of echo.
Since then Loscil has released another album, Submers,
which actually came out at the end of 2002. I have had it nearly
that long, and have had a difficult time writing a review of
it. Why? Well, basically this album uses all the same sounds
in pretty much in the same sort of patterns as the previous
release. However, when i play the two of them back to back,
or flip between them, i think that Submers is
the better of the two, but i can't qualitatively describe why.
In all honesty, that drives me crazy. Thus it has become a point
of personal pride that i finish this review. No real reason,
other than sheer determination.
So: this is the better of the two Loscil albums that i have
heard. It is a delightful mix of washed out drones, subdued
beats buried in the mix, and interesting little sounds. It delights
upon repeated listens, as if the complexity of the ambient electronic
dub only reveals its depth a little bit at a time.
For the most part, the tracks here are similar to the tracks
on Triple Point.
The same mellow feel pervades them all, and the same general
level of overwhelming distortion also soaks through every track.
And yet, there are four songs here that stand out from the crowd
as the finest work that Loscil has done to date.
The first is the album opener, Argonaut 1. This track
meanders in a deep fuzzy drone that reminds me of Windy and
Carl's Antarctica EP. It's a formless void of
music in which it is easy to lose oneself. And if you play the
two albums in sequence the formless drone that ends Triple
Point (called Absolute) fades very nicely into
this formless drone. That sort of continuity is marvelous to
hear, and yet adds to my frustration in not being able to figure
out why i like this disc more.
The second standout track is entirely different. It comes halfway
through the album and is called Diable Marin. This is
a short song for Loscil at a mere 4 minutes, and it features
a lovely yet simple rhythm. This track reminds me of the work
of Jetone, or perhaps Dick
Richards' interpretation of Dhalgren. (Both
artists share the Canadian nationality with Loscil, i might
add. If one were prepared to believe in some sort of "Canadian
ambient dub conspiracy" this fact might prove revealing. Not
that i am saying anything....)
Right after Diable Marin fades out, a different beat
takes over in the track Resurgam. The beat here is deeper
and more bass heavy, and it thuds along moodily under heavily
distorted keys. This song ebbs and flows wonderfully. Listening
to it as i type this, i am struck by the thought that in some
alternate, dub-based universe, this is a massive dancefloor
hit. The beat would be overpowering when played through a soundsystem,
and it moves at a really toe-tapping pace.
The final standout track on Submers is quite
probably my favorite Loscil tune to date. It's called Triton,
and it is dominated by a deep, throbbing bass riff. Not too
unusual for either Loscil or the ambient dub genre, but what
interests me about this song is the way he uses heavily phase-shifted
string samples, panned between the two speaker channels and
gently swelling, to create a powerful sense of movement. This
song describes some sort of fascinating journey, and it is easy
to lose myself just sitting and listening to it. Very well done.
Otherwise, well, Submers is a Loscil album. I
like it better than the other Loscil album i have heard, but
i can't really pinpoint exactly why. Oh sure, there are standout
tracks here, but there were also great tracks on his previous
album. So maybe this is just a purely subjective "taste" thing.
I suppose that other folks might like Triple
Point more. I can see that as well...
Despite my seeming ambivalence over its relative merits, i
really do like this album, and i highly recommend it for fans
of Spacetime Continuum, Deep Listening Corp., The
Orb, or even Windy
and Carl. If you enjoy those bands, track down a copy of
Submers. It will reward you, and i can attest
to the fact that it only gets better on repeated listens over
a long period of time.