Loscil, Endless Falls
Combining acoustic instruments and digital processing to create a low swirl of pulsing drones
Despite its reputation for dampness, Vancouver, B.C., only receives around 44 inches of rain per year — roughly the same as New York City or Boston. Still, that's enough to seep pretty deeply into your being. The Vancouver musician Scott Morgan, aka Loscil, has been trawling watery, ambient expanses since 2001, when he released his debut album, Triple Point. From its title to its cover art to the sounds of rain that bookend the record, Endless Falls makes explicit the way the wetness weighs upon the psyche.
A quintessential Kranky artist — this is his fifth album for the label — Loscil combines acoustic instruments and digital processing to create a slow swirl of pulsing drones. Morgan's long-term collaborator Jason Zumpano plays piano, while Kim Koch and Robert Sparks play violin and bass recorder, respectively. These elements occasionally rise up from the murk to announce their presence — there's a bowed melody on "Endless Falls," and stately chord progressions and bassy bleats drive "Estuarine" — but for the most part, everything is submerged in a ruminative blur that's pushed forward by gentle glitch rhythms. It's mood music, without a doubt, much of a piece with the artist's previous records, and your attitude toward this kind of muted, contemplative, faintly melancholic sound will likely largely determine your response to the record.
The last track, "The Making of Grief Point," makes a distinct shift from Loscil's usual M.O., however, featuring a rambling monologue narrated by Destroyer's Dan Behar. It's a risky move, drawing the listener out of the music's immersive depths and returning her to the plane of cold, hard meaning. But its cryptic text ("There is a certain kind of person to whom things come with great facility, they say this is the noise that gets made as my life is lived, so be it, but don't feel the need to record it") actually adds to the sense that Loscil isn't content making simply mood music, that he wants even the most abstract sounds to be able to mean something.