Loscil – Monument Builders

Posted: 11 November 2016 in Albums
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Kranky – 11th November 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

In researching and considering Loscil’s latest offering, I returned briefly to the previous album, 2014’s Sea Island. An album that was broadly ambient, it was also firmly a work of electronica, an album that was big on ideas, and engaging rather than immersive or entirely background.

Monument Builders expands on this, and while texture and tone continue to play central roles in the formation of the individual pieces which make up the album, it’s also an album on which the individual tracks are built on dynamic and contrast, and the structures of each piece are clearly defined. While the overarching tone is gentle, subtle, there’s much variation between the tracks, and the way in which sounds suddenly emerge in the foreground means there is a continual sense of movement within each piece and across the album as a whole.

Delicate beats thump like a heartbeat against the ticking clock: the soft notes which form a repeating motif through ‘Drained Lake’ may not in themselves build tension, but there’s something beneath the surface. All is not well, all is not calm. You sit, on edge, as an elongated drone undulates like a distant siren wail.

‘Red Tide’ is very much rhythmic in its focus, a cyclical synthesised bass loop – part Kraftwerk, part ‘I Feel Love’ – forms the spine of the track. ‘Anthropocene’, the album’s penultimate track, stands as something of a companion and counterpart to this, with a similar bubbling motif murkily pulsating beneath, while mournful brass conjures black and white or sepiatone scenes of bygone days. It’s an interesting contrast well executed.

Monument Builders is very much a ‘next stage’ work, which continues to expand Loscil’s sonic horizons in a host of directions. But equally as important as recognising the artistic developments, one has to consider the listening experience, and this is ultimately where Monument Builders triumphs. In switching between background and foreground musical dynamics and building and reducing the degrees of tension, Scott Morgan (aka Loscil) has masterfully created a work which demands attention without being excessively obtrusive.

 

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