Loscil LoscilSketches From New Brighton
Metaphorically speaking, Scott Morgan has two types of records: the watery ones, and the airy ones. He's been going since 2001, and over the course of seven albums (not counting the many digital releases he's been putting out as well) he's been refining the language of modern ambient with a kind of floating music, whether that be weightless and into the void (the airy records, among which we find 2006's “Plume” (2006) and 2010's “Endless Falls”), or denser and lazy (the water albums, basically 2002's “Submers” (2002), which still contained some of the dub inherited from 2001's “Triple Point”, and the more recent “Coast/ Range/ Arc”, which could be seen as his polar effort, i.e. of ice and snow). Within this evolution of Loscil through constant flexing of the muscle, “Sketches From New Brighton” sounds like a return to the beginning, to the brittle deepness of “Submers”, on which the accumulation of ambient textures becomes impenetrable at times, and, from time to time, some shy beats appear that help you move slowly through the frozen landscape. Maybe the Canadian is at his most sublime when mutism envelops his music, and not the other way around (to me, “Plume” will always be the perfect album, possessing absolute lightness, perfect to go to sleep with, leaving it playing in the background: it can be mistaken for silence), but this is not one of his lesser efforts. Quite the contrary, in fact.
If they didn’t tell us “Sketches…” is an album by Loscil, and they were to play it to us with our eyes blinded, we could think several things: it could be some lost Biosphere material from the “Strata” era, or Deadbeat, from his “Primordia” period - i.e. a kind of ambient suggesting low temperatures on the outside and inner warmth, total silence and the fluttering of virtually paralysed rhythms, reduced to pulses, like those driving the lethargic tempo of “Coyote” and “Khanahmoot”, which sound like fossilised ambient-dub. On “Coast/ Range/ Arc” and “Endless Falls” (and even on “Stases”, his MP3 album from 2006), nothing moves, there was total calm. Here, the branches of the leafless trees sway gently after a soft breeze, and such a tiny detail is decisive for Loscil to remain the same, without abandoning his formula, his trademark sound. The important thing about “Sketches From New Brighton” is that it changes just enough to let everything stay the same, which is how the status quo of all things is maintained for a long time.
Scott Morgan explains that, on many lazy afternoons in his native Vancouver, he used to pass the time watching ships coming in and sailing out, contemplating the silhouettes that appeared to stay in their place on the horizon, and the enormous forms from up close. It's from those observations that he got the inspiration for the nine pieces of this full-length, which form a homogeneous and inseparable whole, with the occasional, minimal alteration (such as the muffled bass lines standing out from the ambient surface, like the infinitesimal splendour of a precious stone or a block of ice, on “Collision Of The Pacific Gatherer”), justifying - with less than a second of pure beauty - a thorough listen of the whole album, which in its turn also shines like a tiny and furtive moment in the great symphony of beauty of the universe. Loscil has learned to be water and to solidify and evaporate at will. With each new LP he's convincing us that, in ambient, few are, have been, or will be, on his level.