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Loscil, "Plume"

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Scott Morgan's greatest ally may very well be understatement. His work sits comfortably next to many of his label mates, especially Lichens and Bird Show, both of whom utilize unusual sounds and quiet drift to highlight the beauty of their melodies and rhythms. 

 

Kranky
 
Plume drifts casually, hinting at rhythms instead of pounding them out. Morgan slowly, intentionally constructs monuments of sound with everything from his laptop to xylophones and guitars. It was a little dry at first: a record that offered up plenty of lush instrumentation, but never took off with all the potential it accumulated. Repeat listens revealed a more subtle dynamism; Morgan micromanages everything he does, choosing to illuminate new instruments and phrases when he wants to let others go. His music does not shine in moments of explosive power, but radiates artistic beauty in its architecture and morphology. Morgan makes the most of what he has on every track and, much like Labradford did, he uses the smallest of sounds to his advantage. Static hisses become stereo dust storms and piano parts turn into sonorous waves worthy of the most lavish cathedrals. Despite the complexity that whispers through each of Loscil's nine songs on this album, there's a sense of overwhelming peace on the record. Each song defeats its complexity and reaches a point of complete unification.

There are not multiple instruments to be heard on this record, just the one continuous sound of Loscil's architecture. The structure and play of each track becomes the most dominant feature, replacing any need to concentrate on one sound or another. They all move about each other in a perfect dance. That isn't to say all of the songs simply meld into one another. There are quite a few standout tracks on Plume, the best of them being propelled by muted train wheels and sheets of supernatural hiss. Morgan uses more percussive sounds to his advantage later on the album, letting them serve as rooster calls on a record that is quiet and hypnotic enough to put me into a trance. Despite the varied approaches used by Morgan, the album does have a droned-out quality to it that reverberates more than it exclaims. The result is the need for an instrument like the xylophone: on "Charlie" this instrument explodes and wails like a guitar might. Remaining calm, the album suddenly shifts into a lesson on distortion and serenity and how the two are related.

Following in a fine tradition that other bands have laid out, Loscil soothes and absorbs. There's enough going on at any given second to warrant close listening, but if the record is allowed to slip into someone's subconscious, then it works a miraculous magic: dizziness and decreased blood pressure should be expected. Loscil should not be mistaken as a continuation of drone's reign in other fields of music, however. The melodies on here are memorable, the rhythms and swells of sound orchestral, not electric. A quiet, bright night in the city seems to suit this record best. It's bright flares of sound mimic the movement of light in high-rises and the flash of action on highways.

There are claustrophobic moments that remind me of moving through busy streets and other, more liberating moments that remind me of what it felt like to be on top of the Empire State Building—all the world seemed to be at my feet, glowing faintly. Although I was above the city that never slept, the noise from below seemed to be filtered away because the view so magnificent. That sense of freedom and isolation permeates each note of Plume, but with it comes a distinct sense of connectedness that vibrates in the air all around me.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 May 2006 16:42  


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