First Narrows is the third Loscil album in 4 years from Scott Morgan. I suppose this means that Destroyer, his other band, isn't all that busy. Or perhaps he just likes to keep productive. Perhaps Loscil albums, with their sleepy tones and subdued dub beats, are the product of long sleepless nights between rocking recording sessions. I can see a certain insomniac quality to this music, and his sleep loss is our gain.
This is yet another fine disc of ambient electronic dub, and fans of previous Loscil albums will enjoy this album very much. I have enjoyed it, and i also must admit to a certain degree of admiration for Mr. Morgan. After producing two albums of nice dub, he didn't just rest on his laurels and produce a third album identical to his predecessors. Instead, he played with his formula a bit, adding some live instrumentation in a few places, including guitar, piano, and cello. The end result sounds new and fresh in a genre that, well, really hasn't grown that much in the past few years. For this, i applaud Mr. Morgan.
First Narrows starts off with a nice ambient intro called Sickbay. This is a fun little tune of wandering keyboards and wavering synth tones. It's really mellow, and a good start to the album. The ambience continues with the sparseness of Lucy Dub, a tune so mellow that it's barely there. It's more of a sonic haze than a song.
And then Loscil mixes it up a bit. The next track, First Narrows, starts off droning like the previous two songs, then suddenly a slow, beautiful piano line comes in. It's really minimal, just a few notes here or there, ringing and echoing with that rich piano feel, kind of like the piano that Mark Hollis played on his solo album. Loscil also scatters a few echoing drumbeats about, further adding to the complexity of this tune. The overall effect is really nice.
Emma follows this, adding a chiming Lanterna-y guitar line to the Loscil sound of deep bass, echoing keys, and groovey beats. Another lovely tune. I really like the guitarwork that Tim Loewen adds, as well as the ending, when the drum gets rather frenetic for Loscil.
The next song, Mode, is a more normal Loscil tune. It has a great little beat moving it along, and a silly little keyboard melody. It's a fun tune, but it's light, mellow, more head-bopping than dancey. It's followed by Brittle, which is a mostly ambient affair of widely spaced pianowork. It's a rather nice and relaxing song.
Finally, Loscil wraps up his third album with Cloister, which adds a lovely cello bit to his droney dub. In fact, now that i think about it, the rich sound of the cello was almost designed to be used in bass heavy, echoing dub. It sounds completely natural, as if the cello was actually designed by ganja smoking Jamaicans rather than wig-powdered Europeans. Weird. I would never have made this connection until i heard this song, and it just sounds so completely right. Kudos to Loscil for this. Overall, it's a simply wonderful tune that reminds me of the early 90s electronica of Spacetime Continuum, or perhaps Vangelis's work on the Blade Runner soundtrack. That is, it is layers of drone, the cello merely creating the highest pitched drone. A wonderful piece, and the perfect end to another fine Loscil album.
I have to admit, i continue to be impressed by Loscil. His albums take me a long time to absorb, but i have thoroughly enjoyed each of them. I wonder when his next release will be out? If you enjoy mellow electronica or modern dub, then i urge you to track down anything you can from Loscil. It is definitely worth the search.