Review Summary: An incredibly intriguing and captivating album that is Loscils best to date
Loscil is one of those electronic artists, to me, that feels like a hit or a miss. While Endless Falls
was a hit, First Narrows
and almost every other album he’s made felt like a miss. What made those albums unsatisfying was his use of repetition of a certain melody or rhythm that would just drone on and on and while repetition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the kind of repetition that is displayed through a song like Sickbay on the album, First Narrows
, made the track seem aimless as if it wasn't developing anything as it progresses, but just kept this same uninteresting, however relaxing, sound throughout and it made Loscil sound kind of amateurish. His 2006 album, Plumes
, while being a relaxing and pretty album, was pretty uninteresting with almost no song being captivating or memorable at all. This album, however, is the biggest hit he’s ever had.
Loscils style of music can be described as ambient/glitch with subtle bits of IDM. Little reverberated beats (or “clicks and cuts” as some people like to call them) echo in the different channels and washy, warm and airy synths drone around them. To put it more abstractly, Loscil is like the walk on an empty long road in the dead of night that nobody drives on and the streetlights are changing color with each step you take. After hearing this album, there are quite a few more visions about Loscil that have entered my mind and that is the pure state of euphoria and bliss you get from floating in a warm bubble across the world.
Sketches from New Brighton
is certainly a fantastic solemn and captivating journey as we end this long and hot summer. Right from the start we are introduced to a different feeling that most Loscil albums seem to lack and that is an engaging opening track. Khanahmoot introduces us to a couple of droning and delayed synthesizers; one of these synths has quite a heavy bass to them, choppy micro-beats and echoed sound effects that give the song a hypnotic feel and it’s captivating for the duration of the track as it almost brings you to sleep because of its such calm nature. Unlike his previous albums, the arrangement of synthesizers and placement of notes doesn’t have that amateurish quality to them and they sound full, warm and relaxing while still keeping you interested. Hastings Special, the second track on the album, is the Bohren & der Club of Gore equivalent to glitch and IDM. It has a slow tempo and overwhelming jazz and brooding low end sound to it and it really showcases Loscils new side of music. The eighth and third track on the album, Second Narrows, and, Fifth Anchor Span, also feature a very lounge, jazzy and ambient feel as well with the addition of a Rhodes Electric Piano sound on almost every song presented. Second Narrows is quite possibly the best song on this album as it starts out strong and then around the middle of it, undergoes an elaborate and beautiful change almost as if it was going to change into an ambient techno track.
Another thing that’s quite immersing about this album is the beats. They are actually very interesting, hypnotic and sound as if they belong in the songs, unlike the album First Narrows
where the beats sounded monotonous, repetitive and hard to absorb. Fantastic use of these beats are in songs like, Collision of the Pacific Gatherer, where they are absolutely booming and clicking along with the incredible bass heavy and relaxing synthesizer in the background. While the bass drum booms in the background of this incredible track, around a minute and thirty seconds of the track is where the choppy microsounds come in and swarm the track adding so much depth to the track. The song has a much darker vibe than the rest of the album and it is clearly one of the strongest on the album as it shows Loscils evolution with his new and majorly definitive sound.
Also, what makes this album different from his previous work is that there are a lot more pure ambient songs while, even then, still maintaining a mild glitchy tone to them. Warm, spacey and reverberated beats and melodies are filtered and muffled in the song, Container Ships, as it feels as if the song was recorded underwater. Glitchy melodies spring out randomly as we feel a lush, but bitter mist in our ears in the song, Coyote, and bass heavy synthesizers imitate the sound of a melodic bass drums and the breezy, algid and eerie synths drone in the song, Prairie Trains, which makes this song the perfect closing to an album of this genre. As the album comes to a finish, one must come back to reality as this album has you immersed in one of the most euphoric states of consciousness to ever have experienced.
While my opinion of Loscils music, as a whole, is very mixed, this was extremely impressive and he should keep this style of music creating the next album(s). It is by far his strongest work to date with far less amateur production, a warmer and more ethereal vibe, an interesting array of different styles and sounds. It is, overall, very enjoyable, intriguing, captivating, relaxing, perplexing and is without a doubt Loscils strongest album to date and could, potentially, be contender for the ambient album of year.