Loscil - Sketches From New Brighton
Scott Morgan's music is a taut elastic band that will never snap. Since 1998, he has been working under the banner of Loscil, becoming an established avant-garde artist in the process. Morgan is obsessed with the elements like a sixteenth century physician, regularly releasing progressive records of a concept nature: typified by the aquatic-themed 2002 effort, Submers. Hailing from independent music's latest home, Canada, he has earned the respect and space to craft his conjunctions of drones into something truly meaningful, whilst still finding the time to release groundbreaking albums by drumming in Dan Bejar's Destroyer. Though rarely finding mainstream acclaim, Loscil's efforts are by all accounts riveting. So, when I put on Sketches From New Brighton I found myself expecting something that would either bend the curvature of my spine or the earth.
Whilst these nine tracks are as aesthetically bleak as they're expected to be, the record itself is too far from the norm to distinguish individual tracks from one another. Instead, they're an amalgamation of motifs which progress into differing forays of tension. In that respect, it's much more similar to his earlier work than that of the last two records or his other project, Destroyer.
Whilst the album begins rife with subtlety, the pulsating skeletal guise soon disappears. 'Hastings Sunrise' arrives baring expected invasive frequencies and dissonant tonality. Emotional and uncomfortable, it insists that you delve into your subconscious as your heart sinks; Loscil are at their best. The wistful, melodic touches of vibraphone compliment the earthy characteristics of Sketches From New Brighton - rarely do you find yourself pondering the construction of sounds alone, but more so the construction of the pieces as they tumble into one another. 'Second Narrows' is our first traditional synthscape. With its melodies implied delicately through the use of woodwind, it's sonically soothing until the acidic percussion arrives.
Much like Charlie Kaufman, Scott Morgan is clearly entranced by the weight behind each and every idea within his art. Every element has a beginning, middle, and an end – none more important than the other. Ever-developing complexity is juxtaposed with regurgitating simplicity which rarely misses a beat, much like modern life.
There are moments like 'Cascadia Terminal' where the drones align like an awkward eclipse and you could be listening to 2005's Stases. However, patience ensues and not before long the components resemble earlier phrases, and those calmer moments have flown by. 'Collision of Pacific Gather' has a volatile storm of intent at its behest. The piercing stings are as prominent as its vortex of bass frequencies so much that when it swells, thrashes, and turns, you fear for Gepetto and that wooden childs' life.
Morgan's process puts a stronger onus on being natural than relying on methodical incremental instrumental nuances, though they're clearly there. Sketches From New Brighton is much more progressive than it is supposed to be - the conscious effort it makes to take you one-on-one is remarkable. At times, it may sound like merely a mass of sound and it will not interest everybody, but Loscil have created an emotional record which, given the chance, will address your underlying paranoia in an interesting and evocative way.