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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 Triple Point 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.

Related Links:

Triple Point, the previous album by Loscil.
This Night, the latest album from Destroyer, featuring Scott Morgan on drums.


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