April 13, 2024

loscil – Monument Builders is a journey in distance and Krautrock atmospheres

KRANKY RECORDS    11/11/2016

The best non-German Krautrock album of the year. Carrying that repetitive set of patterns, channeling alienation, conjuring up atmosphere, the set is full of distanced feeling and crackling loss. Old vinyl crackles, ticking beats, occasional motoric machinery, drifting synth, slowly wandering keyboards – this is a world of sound, a film soundtrack of landscapes journeyed through, a shot from a train window. Sequencers sequence, keyboards float, patterns repeat and build ala Philip Glass. Sounds build on sounds till a drop in volume signals how deep we had been as we return to simplicity. Other times, like the track Deceiver, are deep and slow. Moving rather than menacing. Colours pecked out with small key presses.

Loscil is a project from Scott Morgan, built mostly from samples of things like record runouts, boiling kettles, moving air, all filtered through a low-fi vintage micro-cassette recorder. He calls this ambient and electronic and, whilst it is ambient, in that it makes an ambience, it isn’t background music. It carries the hypnotic qualities of early Tangerine Dream or very early Kraftwerk – fused to more ethereal modern sounds and ideas like, in the title track, a stuck vinyl disc. Coming back to the Glass comparison, Morgan attributes the album’s conception to watching an old VHS copy of Koyaanisquatsi, warbling and stretched, somehow enhanced by decay. Ideas of industrial wastelands, environmental destruction are conveyed musically, echoing the inspiration’s ecological concerns. The concepts are summed up in one track title – Anthrocene. The idea that the world is in a new geological age, one where the biggest influence is the human race.

However ugly the industrial rapine, art and beauty may be made of it in film, photography or, here, a strange and lovely musical album.

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