Loscil - Equivalents - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Loscil - Equivalents

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2019-08-16
Loscil - Equivalents
Loscil - Equivalents

Canadian sound sculpturist Scott Morgan has been mesmerising us with his ambient soundworks for nearly 20 years. His 12th album (there have also been as many EPs) continues his exploration of sonic spaces and the connections the human ear makes between sounds as they move from composer’s fingers to the listener’s inner ear. Morgan’s creations are closer to Brian Eno’s seminal ambient works than their snorecore postrock offspring (think Stars of The Lid, Harmonia, Tangerine Dream, and Hammock over God Is An Astronaut, Mono, or Godspeed!)). Equivalents is based on a book of photographs (and subsequent Museum Of Modern Art installation) by Alfred Stieglitz, which captured images of clouds in such a way that they could have been the user’s guide to the old game of “what’s that image in the clouds”? Of course, the spectator’s imagination was the key to the perceived image and there was no “right” or “wrong” answer.

     The ambivalence of sonic interpretation (and Stieglitz’ visual interpretation) is carried through to Morgan’s track sequencing where the track segments (all entitled ‘Equivalent #’) are sequenced non-numerically (Parts 1, 3, 6, 5, 2, 8, 7, 4) to parallel the randomness of interpretations of Stieglitz’ photographs. I think the point is that the tracks can be listened to in any order, just as a Stieglitz’ photograph could be a cloud formation or a ripple in a lake. Try listening to the album as sequenced by Morgan, then rearrange the tracks numerically forwards, backwards, odds, evens, etc. and see how your listening experience changes. Do you receive the sounds differently when the tracks are resequenced? Does your mind hear different tones that you missed the first time? As you listen to these sonic tones and amoebic, free-flowing electronic swashes you can form your own emotional reactions or visual interpretations.

     The tracks replicate the experience of floating in a sensory deprivation tank, with sonic patterns coming at you from all directions, and vague patters of “recognisable” tunes reveal themselves. Perhaps that’s a broken piano played back through a wobbly tape loop (‘Equivalent 1’), ‘Equivalent 3’ is definitely a forlorn piano mourning in an empty room performing a dirgy Joy Divisionish drone, while ‘Equivalent 6’ delivers creepy Badalamenti-styled cinematic touches that wouldn’t be out of place in a David Lynch film. In fact, relistens will reveal sounds you don't remember or changes in timbre or mood that you're sure were there but were actually all in your own inner phonograph.

     Many tracks are conducive to navel-gazing contemplation or can function as white noise while you go about your daily routines, with ‘Equivalent 8’ and the ominous, eerie, floating-in-space waves of throbbing hums throughout ‘Equivalent 2’ the standouts in this regard. Of course, those are my interpretations. Yours will almost certainly be different and Morgan’s triumph is getting everyone to hear sounds in a unique experience that’s formed by their own personal signposts and musical preferences.

     So if you enjoy kicking back and putting on one of Eno’s ambient excursions or any of his musical offspring from Stars of The Lid to Hammock and Harold Budd or the atmospheric electronics of krautrockers Harmonia, Roedelius, Moebius, Cluster and Tangerine Dream, then Loscil’s latest awaits you with open arms, eyes, and ears!


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