Saturday, May 11, 2013

REVIEW: Loscil - Intervalo

8.5 out of 10

Loscil's “Endless Falls,” the opener on his 2010 album of the same name, begins with the sound of a distant rainstorm, and nothing else – until slowly a drifting drone and a simple four-note string melody emerges. For five minutes these basic elements repeat, subtle undulations in timbre and volume being the only discernible changes. And then, just as we think the song is perhaps approaching a climax, the strings and the gently rhythmic drone fade away. We return to the sound of a distant rainstorm, and nothing else.

This song is characteristic of much of Scott Morgan's compositional stylings: the minimal arrangement, the slow movements in tone, the evocation of a particular environment and place. But on Morgan's latest release, 'Intervalo', he collaborates with pianist Kelly Wyse to rework this song, and the result: unlike anything we have ever heard before from Morgan. The new version begins not with the sound of a distant rainstorm, but with a barely audible bassline, vague clanging noises in the background, and that same drifting drone from the original. The connection to the original is hardly noticeable at first – at least not until a serene, spectral piano begins mimicking that simple four-note melody. As the final seconds of the song approach, there is no clear vision of environment as there is in the original. This is something much more introspective and personal.

All together 'Intervalo' features five reworked Loscil tracks. There are moments that feel as if Wyse's ethereal piano is guiding the way, overshadowing Morgan's genius. But more often than not we are reminded of just why Morgan has become one of the most celebrated ambient producers today. Like the warped synth phases of  “Rye Fields” or the cavernous glitches of “City Hospital,” this album is full of subtle beauty and nuanced sophisticated. This is perhaps Loscil at its most minimal, and perhaps also at its most beautiful.

Standout Tracks: Endless Falls, Rye Fields, City Hospital

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