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Sea Island

Loscil — Sea Island (November 20, 2014)

              Loscil — Sea Island 
ζ•   Born in Canada, Scott Morgan apparently appropriated his Loscil alter ego from the operation code within the sound synthesis system Csound.
ζ•   Murky, densely textured depths of sound are explored with subtle pulses & pings woven within, contrasted with composed or improvised moments of acoustic instrumentation.
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
ζ•   Ambientní hudba mi připadá jako ta, která je obzvláště přístupná amatérským hudebním producentům: nevyžaduje podivuhodnou nástrojovou obratnost, ani nádherný hlas — můžete jen chrlit nějaké vlající, ‘uchu ľúbivé’ a přátelské textury, pohybující se rychlostí obřího mrože, podřimujícího na slunci, a nazývat to dnem. Je to požehnání i prokletí, i když..., lze snadno najít stovky podobných nahrávek, které zavály vrstvy saharských písků, poslouchat s polštářky na uši, ale nikdy neupoutají doopravdy.
ζ•   Scott Morgan je posedlý mořem a to mne ba. Třeba na jedné z minulých desek Submers je každý track pojmenován po ponorce (Argonaut 1, Gymnote, Mute 3, Nautilus, Diable Marin, Resurgam, Le Plongeur, Triton, Kursk). Tady nacházím ‘praní’ basových tónů a postupné diminuendo, stereo–frázování, jednoduché/výkonné, podobné tomu, co dělal Steve Reich. Baví mne jít do hloubky Morganových metod — hlubší poslech odhalí ostře zobrazenou a často dramatickou námořní plavbu s rozpoznatelnými terénními nahrávkami až do zhmotněné scenérie.
Name: Scott Morgan
Co–llaborators: Josh Lindstrom, Ashley Pitre, Kelly Wyse, Jason Zumpano
Genre: Electronic, Avant–Gard
Style: Ambient, Modern Classical, Drone
Album release: November 20, 2014
Record Label: Kranky
Duration:     73:06
01 Ahull     6:39
02 In Threes     5:58
03 Bleeding Ink     6:38
04 Sea Island Murders     8:27
05 Iona     8:35
06 Holding Pattern     6:12
07 Catalina 1943     6:34
08 Angle of Loll     5:52
09 Sturgeon Bank     6:01
10 En Masse     5:24
11 Angel of List     6:46
01 Ahull (Vibraphone — Josh Lindstrom)     6:39
02 In Threes (Electric Piano [Rhodes] — Jason Zumpano)     5:58
03 Bleeding Ink (Voice — Ashley Pitre)     6:38
04 Sea Island Murders (Piano — Kelly Wyse)     8:27
05 Iona (Electric Piano [Rhodes] – Jason Zumpano)     8:34
06 Holding Pattern (Electric Piano [Rhodes] — Jason Zumpano)     6:12
07 Catalina 1943 (Violin — Elaine Reynolds)     6:34
08 Angel Of Loll (Vibraphone — Josh Lindstrom)     5:52
09 Sturgeon Bank     6:01
10 En Masse (Piano — Kelly Wyse/Voice — Ashley Pitre)     5:24
11 Angel Of List     6:46
ζ•   Design — Craig McCaffrey
ζ•   Mastered By — Jason Ward
ζ•   Recorded in Vancouver, Seattle, Mission and Manchester, 2014
ζ•   Bleeding Ink originally commissioned by Aakash Odedra / Damien Jalet
ζ•   Copyright ©Scott Morgan
ζ•   Phonographic Copyright (p) — Kranky
ζ•   Mastered at — Chicago Mastering Service
Review by Heather Phares; Score: ****
ζ•   Loscil's Scott Morgan operates at such a consistently high level that the cohesion between his albums makes them even more immersive. Sea Island feels like an evolution of the sounds and ideas he explored on his previous full–length, 2012’s excellent Sketches from New Brighton, and the short–form releases that followed it, the piano–driven Intervalo and his split EP with the British ambient group Fieldhead. ζ•   Morgan sets an introspective, dark, but not oppressive mood similar to that of Sketches with tracks like the misty “In Threes,” and, as always, uses small shifts to achieve seismic results; the way “Holding Pattern” warms up its chilly, flute–like tones and electric piano is almost imperceptible from moment to moment. He explores fragmented melodies in similar fashion, shrinking them to sonar–like beeps on “Angle of Loll” and letting them flow on “Sturgeon Bank.” Underscoring the connection Sea Island has to Morgan’s recent work, the album features collaborations with Intervalo pianist Kelly Wyse and Fieldhead violinist Elaine Reynolds as well as returning vibraphonist Josh Lindstrom and keyboardist Jason Zumpano. Morgan’s pieces allow them to shine as much as he does: album opener “Ahull” showcases Lindstrom’s spiraling lines, which recall Cliff Martinez’s haunting Solaris score; Reynolds’ playing is subsumed into glowing tones on “Catalina 1943”; and Wyse’s poignant performance on “En Masse” is a reminder of what made Intervalo so special. Another standout, “Bleeding Ink,” uses Ashley Pitre’s wordless vocals to add a unique intimacy as well as a respite from the album’s more ominous moments. Elsewhere, Morgan employs the last vestiges of his dub techno roots to give Sea Island structure and momentum; “Sea Island Murders” begins with gasps of melody and a subtly pulsing beat that bottoms out midway through the song, like the conclusion of a chase; “Iona” takes the opposite tack, initially floating on bell–like tones before a windswept beat overtakes it.   Techniques like these ensure that Sea Island’s generous length offers a deep dive into Loscil’s world that remains compelling from start to finish. :: http://www.allmusic.com/
David Bruggink; Score: 4.0
ζ•   As styles go, ambient music strikes me as one that’s particularly accessible to the amateur music producer: it doesn’t require prodigious dexterity on an instrument, or a gorgeous singing voice — you can merely churn out some billowing, ear–friendly textures that move at the speed of a giant walrus napping in the sun, and call it a day. ζ•   It’s a blessing and curse, though, and thus one can easily find hundreds of ambient records that waft layers of nap–inducing synth pads towards your ears but never really catch your attention.
ζ•   This makes it a pleasure to find ambient music that manages to be truly interesting, whether by incorporating a wider palette of instruments and styles or by perfecting the standard formula of enveloping the listener in pure waves of elegant, flowing noise.
ζ•   Loscil’s Sea Island is the rare kind of ambient record that fails to be either aurally pleasing or texturally captivating. Permeated by gusts of feedback and soft keyboards wrapped in arctic reverb, the sounds of Sea Island serve mostly as reminders that these kinds of wintry textures have already been explored more successfully by artists such as Thomas Köner and Echospace. Atop these broad, gray strokes are also nondescript, mechanized bells, occasional wordless vocalizing, and touches of modern classical–inspired live instrumentation.
ζ•   It’s a formula with potential on paper, but its execution is meandering and lackluster at best, and occasionally I even found it physically upsetting to listen to — a surprising quality for an ambient album. Something about the monotonous, featureless tones which begin ‘Bleeding Ink,’ mimicking a hearing test mixed with a skipping CD, combining with the tuneless vocals of a woman which represent the track’s textural point of interest, made this one of the most unpleasant songs I have heard in recent memory.
ζ•   The record’s evocative track titles (‘Catalina 1943’, ‘Sturgeon Bank') seem to be a futile grasp at purpose, as the songs themselves fail to generate cinematic imagery, and are so sonically similar that they could just as well be untitled. As a side note, it makes sense to me to give songs names that conjure particular places and times, but I find it humorous that a track as bland and self–serious as 'Sea Island Murders' was given a name that conjures a poorly–titled Hardy Boys mystery. Sea island? (On the other hand, I never had a problem with Red House Painters' Ocean Beach.)
ζ•   I understand that ambient albums are often meant to be experiences in which the listener is subsumed in mesmerizing layers of sound, and I have a great appreciation for certain artists who have made such albums. I enjoy getting lost in the criminally repetitive, droning melodies of William Basinki, as well as the stock–in–trade heavy kick of Wolfgang Voigt and the minimal piano of Jon Hopkins. But while Sea Island is a serviceable display of the sounds at work in current ambient releases, it lacks the spirit and the organic quality that makes the best ambient music so entrancing. :: http://soundblab.com/
By Daryl Keating; Score: 8
ζ•   Vancouver resident Loscil‘s 11th album, Sea Island finds him grappling with subtlety. The densely layered elements on Sea Island don’t weave in and out of each other so much as they merge together like rain drops on a car’s hood. A pulse here, a blip there, a bubble from the depths, all trickle together towards the collective puddle for a short while before the whole brew begins to evaporate into the ether. “In Threes,” “Bleeding Ink” and “Holding Pattern” all follow this slow–zenith, gentle–disintegration method to great affect, but it’s where the structure deviates that the album gets really interesting. “Ahull,” for example, employs a lovely technique where simple patterns collide into a polyrhythm, morphing the track into something entirely different. Sea Island reinforces what’s already been established — that Loscil is Canada’s frontrunner for in–depth ambient music. While there’s no wrong way to digest this album, it’s headphone music for sure, optimally experienced on a slow train with a glass roof so the record’s atmospheric elements can aptly complement the passing stars. :: http://exclaim.ca/
Tristan Bath, November 18th, 2014 13:04
:: http://thequietus.com/articles/16713-loscil-sea-island-review
Website: http://www.loscil.ca/
MySpace: https://myspace.com/loscil
Twitter: https://twitter.com/_loscil_
Bandcamp: http://loscil.bandcamp.com/
Blog: http://www.loscil.ca/blog/
EMAIL: info @ loscil.ca
LABEL: http://www.kranky.net/artists/loscil.html
Artist Biography by John Bush
ζ•   Born in Canada, Scott Morgan apparently appropriated his Loscil alter ego from the operation code within the sound synthesis system Csound. Although he admits he rarely actually uses Csound to create his compelling minimalist recordings, he asserts that looping and oscillating are the basics of his music–making process. Loscil’s debut, Triple Point, was named after the scientific term for the temperature where a material can exist with its solid, liquid, and gas phases all in equilibrium. Based on a collection of demos entitled A New Demonstration of Thermodynamic Tendencies, the album takes the titles of its minimalist dub/techno/ambient–inspired tracks from the language of thermodynamics, the science that investigates the conversion of heat into mechanical force or energy and vice–versa. However, Morgan has confessed that track titles such as "Hydrogen," "Enthalpy," and "Discrete Entrophy" were lifted from a book bought in a second–hand store and "presented as a sort of false document on thermodynamics" rather than having an explicit correlation with the music.
ζ•   Morgan studied music at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, facilitating the musician’s exposure to 20th century experimental composers like John Cage and Stockhausen (while, incongruously, Morgan simultaneously played drums for a series of indie bands). Drawing stated influence from contemporary post–techno musicians such as Oval and Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas, as well as early electronic music pioneers such as Brian Eno and Raymond Scott, Triple Point’s fluctuating tones and pulses are explicitly intended to drift between the intuitive and the intellectual. Perhaps echoing descriptions of Loscil's music as deep and oceanic, the follow–up, Submers, looked to underwater craft for its emotional and thematic coherence. Each of the track titles was named after a submarine, such as "Argonaut I," "Nautilus," and "Le Plongeur." The release closed with a touching requiem for the crew of ill–fated Russian nuclear vessel Kursk. For 2004’s First Narrows, which was inspired in part by the first gap in the entrance to the Burrard Inlet, Morgan collaborated with other musicians, an approach he repeated for 2006’s Plume. Released in 2010, Endless Falls was another step forward, featuring vocals courtesy of his Destroyer bandmate Dan Bejar on its final track. 2012's Sketches from New Brighton took its name an oceanside park in Vancouver that was considered to be the city's birthplace. The following year, Morgan collaborated with pianist Kelly Wyse on Intervalo, a reworking of several Sketches from New Brighton tracks and lesser–known pieces. Along with a split EP with Fieldhead, Loscil also released Sea Island in 2014, which reunited Morgan with Wyse and drew inspiration from the isle that is home to Vancouver's international airport. ζ•   Under the moniker of Loscil Sound Design, Morgan creates interactive music and sound design for websites, CD–Rs, film and video projects, and "ambient environments." :: http://www.allmusic.com/
ζ•   The serene ambient compositions of loscil come courtesy of Vancouver–based musician Scott Morgan. Taking his moniker from the “looping oscillator” function in the computer music language Csound, Morgan uses custom made Max for Live devices and the occasional live instrument to build robust, droning soundscapes. Morgan cites influences including krautrock pioneers Cluster, minimalist composer Gavin Bryars, and a wealth of film music composers.
ζ•   Loscil’s origins come from Morgan’s combined influence and involvement with Vancouver’s indie rock scene in the 90’s, having played in several bands as a guitarist and drummer, and also from his academic studies at Simon Fraser University where he learned computer music, film sound and new music composition studying with influential electroacoustics pioneer Barry Truax.
ζ•   Loscil’s self–released album, A New Demonstration of Thermodynamic Tendencies, caught the ear of the Chicago independent label Kranky, who in turn signed Morgan’s project and released Triple Point in October of 2001. Since then, Morgan has gone on to release 5 additional full length albums with Kranky including the latest Sketches from New Brighton released in September of 2012.  In light of loscil’s exclusive track “Umbra” on Ghostly’s 2006 compilation Idol Tryouts 2, Ghostly partnered with Morgan in 2009 for the EP Strathcona Variations.  Morgan has periodically partnered with other labels for special projects including 2012’s City Hospital book report on Dublin’s WistRec and 2011’s Coast/Range/Arc on Italy’s Glacial Movements.
ζ•   Loscil has toured internationally and played respected festivals and events such as Mutek, New Forms, Decibel, Substrata, Wordless Music and more. In addition to his loscil duties, Morgan has played drums for acclaimed Vancouver indie–rock band Destroyer and has composed several scores for major and independent games and films.
ζ•   “… an impressive catalogue of pensive, minimal records that turn computerized sounds into something strangely soothing–the kind of music you want to listen to flat on your back, eyes fixed at the ceiling…”  PITCHFORK
ζ•   “… a set of songs left teetering on the brink of actually existing at all, a sort of ghostly paean to the beauty found on the cusp of complete silence.”  DROWNED IN SOUND
ζ•   “Endless Falls’ mix of old and new maintains Morgan’s reputation as one of the most consistent, and consistently interesting, producers out there.”  ALL MUSIC

Sea Island