Review Summary: A disorienting parade of paranoia.
If you're not already familiar with Marcos Ortegas electronic project, Lorn, you're not prepared for it. Even after listening through this record countless times, I'm not sure I'm fully prepared for what I'm about to experience each time I press play. Combining elements of ambient, glitch hop, and dubstep, Lorn successfully creates the soundtrack to your hallucinogenic dreamscape. What's so immediately striking about this album, is the sense of utterly vast, void space created by its minimalist percussion and phrasing while simultaneously invoking a primal instinct of impending destruction. Starting with the opener 'Mercy', this album establishes that it has little interest in melody, instead opting for disorienting rhythm patterns and ambient effects, and the resulting sound is remarkable. The sheer amount of paranoia is a thing of wonder. Tracks like 'Weigh Me Down' and 'Everything is Violence' ooze atmosphere reminiscent of Poe prose, and at times evoking the surreal atmosphere of Dali. I realize these comparisons may be a bit extreme, but if I'm to be honest, I can't think of much else aside from certain drone albums which put me in such a catatonic, mesmerized mental state.
Adding to the already nihilistic vibe of the album, Ortegas distorted vocals thrown tastefully into these tracks slams home the despair found within this collection of songs. Although melody is hard to come by in this album, when it is present, it resonates all the more for its usual absence. In the 'ballad' of this album, 'The Gun', we get a glimpse into a softer, although equally distorted world, easily the most melodic song on the album. With 'Diamond', Lorn showcases his knack for blending bits of melody with drone-like distorted synth lines to astonishing effect.
Drawing towards the end of the album, Lorn switches directions for a brief moment, and almost dares to release a dance track. With a more straight forward dance beat 'Chhurch' showcases a slightly more upbeat sound, while still retaining its dark atmosphere. Finally 'I Better' finishes off the album with its monster waves of bass, pounding drums, and dark synth effects.
Ultimately, Lorn has managed to create an album which almost perfectly captures the sense of claustrophobia. With its cold, dark, almost mechanical production, it manages to pull its listeners through a transcendent electronic experience. I can't say that this album is enjoyable, per se, but I can say that I absolutely enjoyed it. If you like easily digestible electronic music, this is definitely not the album for you. Everything about it reeks of negativity, but by the end, I can't help but feel uplifted. It is however, not without its flaws. While it capably manages to create an experience, it can feel a bit repetitive at times. I know that it's part of what makes it such a good album, but I also can't help but feel that a bit of variation would have been a good move. For such an experimental album, it would seem that it could have pushed just a bit farther.
On the whole, I would highly recommend this album to anyone interested in dark electronic, or just plain old dark music in general. If you've ever wondered what was going through St. Anthonys head before he was (presumably) crushed by his temptations, this album is for you.
Tracks to check out:
'Weigh Me Down'