Review Summary: Relax. Close your eyes. Relax. Concentrate.
Given he's best known for his time in Arab Strap and an acclaimed collaboration with Bill Wells, it's perhaps understandable that some casual observers mistake Aidan John Moffat for a one trick pony. That, of course, isn't to say he's not the master of his own little niche. Weathered and bedraggled, the Falkirk native's thick regional drawl has been all but ever present in the past two decades of Scottish music, his often peerless lyricism lending an insight into one of the most relatable and entertaining minds modern music has to offer. Whether he's fronting one of the aforementioned projects, lesser known guises or even mumbling over old Mogwai records, each and every broad utterance has contributed to a continuous trail of excellence, albeit one that's done little to dispel the odd dismissive rumble.
There is, however, one anomaly in this seemingly endless collection of programmes and ideas - that being his relatively unheralded solo output, specifically that categorised under the suitably sophisticated L. Pierre moniker. Assembled from a mirage of old samples and field recordings, these lush, engrossing electronic soundscapes differ from the rest of his work not only through sonic discrepancy but also their sense of ambiguity, even if they're still best suited to late, solitary nights, preferably with beverage at hand. Devoid of words but for the occasional chopped-up flutter, it's a venture which portrays this most prolific cult figure from a completely different angle, and one which, in The Island Come True
, has delivered its finest fruits to date.
Resurrected following a five year gap, this fourth LP by and large finds Moffat prioritising background disturbance as opposed to solid musical backbone. Dominated by the gentle hiss and crackle of used vinyl, barely a sound in its 36-minute runtime arrives unobstructed, a trait which can affect overall tone as well as atmospheric resonance. It's not all dusty retroisms either, as proven by 'Kab 1340,' whose sweeping strings are intercepted by the shrill cry of seagulls and the roar of waves crashing against rocks; an aural scene perfectly befitting the technicolour fantasy paradise depicted in the LP's artwork. For seasoned listeners, it'll probably come as little surprise that the rest of its material comes from a decidedly darker place, with the mournful cello and sharp underlying effervescence of 'Sad Laugh' being far more indicative as to the habitual outlook.
Some passages delve even deeper into this evocative, abstract tenor. The unsettled baby babbles which conclude 'Sad Laugh' (Moffat's own son, incidentally) and the eerie, repetitive vocal cuts of 'Now Listen!' for instance are reminiscent of ploys you'd find in a surrealist horror film, while 'Tulpa's 30 seconds of willfully inhibited silence and the vast closing drones of 'The Kingdom' both exhibit an exquisite command of accumulated tension. It's not a recipe that's about to snatch the spotlight from his exploits as a frontman, but if The Island Come True
proves anything it's that Moffat's love of both creation and challenging his fanbase remain as intense as ever, with this latest step ranking among the most enveloping, and certainly inventive of his entire career.