Loscil / Fieldhead - Fury & Hecla - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Loscil / Fieldhead - Fury & Hecla

by Steve Rhodes Rating:7.5 Release Date:2014-03-10

In tandem with a joint European tour comes a split-release from kindred spirits, Vancouver-based Scott Morgan, aka Loscil, and UK-based Paul Elam, aka Fieldhead and sometime member of The Declining Winter and Glissando, alternating tracks of entrancing electronica that complement each of their styles intently. This makes for a rewarding EP which neatly celebrates Gizeh Records' 50th release.

Having secured a long-time home on the excellent Kranky Records, it is unsurprising that Loscil's opener 'Fury' is a slow burner. Similar to fellow North Americans Eluvium and Mountains, it is a warm, percussion-less track that barely deviates from its enveloping, looped electronic bliss. Slowly adding tinges of Oriental samples part-way through in the realm of Sakamoto and Eno, it is a track of simple minimalism that ensures the listener complete relaxation without threatening to comatose.

Fieldhead's opener 'Home' retains the warm loops of the EP but adds the faintest touches of punctuated glitches to the proceedings. Quite a poignant title considering Paul's recent return to the UK after several years in Canada, it is a hypnotic track that stirs the senses.

'Helluland' provides a change in mood, encapsulating a sinister Boards of Canada or a funereal Seefeel, it is a more organ-heavy number, with sumptuous chord changes that easily relate to the more orchestral parts of Dead Can Dance. Subtle noise and almost-beats appear part-way through, along with a sampled woodwind, building up the tension. A perfect example of layering in music, it never feels rushed but neither is it an exercise in ambient laziness that often troubles a lot of acts in the genre. A delightful track that could echo John Carpenter, Popul Vuh and Dario Argento collaborating in a monastery.

Again reflecting his current nearby home 'Northumberland' perfectly captures the often bleak and windswept, but also beautiful nature of the country and Fieldhead does it justice here. Faintly distorted choral samples open, allowing a looped guitar and collaborator Elaine Reynolds' treated violin to sneak through and add depth to the melody. More beat-orientated than much of the EP, subtlety is still the essence.

Even the titles complement one another on this EP. Warm ambience and loops are predominant on Loscil's closer 'With Northerly Winds', with samples that sound like travelling water neatly summing up the flowing nature of the EP. As with all the tracks here, mood and atmosphere are the key, and the keys that drift into the song will send a chill down anyone's spine.

Commencing with a heavily-delayed guitar sample, 'Hecla' centres around Elaine's mournful violin, double-tracked and layered, it works its way between the speakers, neatly at home with the bare electronic backing. Jarring, atonal strings are added and the song continues to build with all instrumentation loudening before stripping back to a fading violin. A strong close to a great EP.

Loscil and Fieldhead have demonstrated that electronic instrumental music can be original, intriguing and affecting. A great soundtrack companion for long drives in the wilderness, Fury and Hecla is a wonderful, haunting EP full of texture and atmosphere and a welcome addition that warrants further investigation of both artists' back catalogues.

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