Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Endless Falls - Loscil (Spring Records 2010)

Endless Falls

Kranky Records.

SCQ Rating: 79%

Few things in this world mean as much to me as rain; comforting and beautiful, I could listen to it, stare through or stand in it for an indefinite span of hours, temperature permitting. So maybe I’m too possessive to join the choir of critics praising Loscil (aka Scott Morgan) for bookending his new album with the sound of rainfall but really, any Vancouverite who chooses to base his recordings around rain is about as ingenious as a Californian who courageously writes a record about celebrity. Really, what’s my problem? I’m jealous… that Morgan has taken up subject matter so dear to my heart and on its broad, beautiful theme truly delivered an ambient record worth getting soaked over.

For a concept of such watery constitution, title track ‘Endless Falls’ breaks off any rippling, liquid impulses with warm strings, layered above one another in upward progressions before peaking, subtly, into the album’s first “fall”. Its fireside coziness could be considered a red herring, throwing listeners off-track before ‘Estuarine’ sets the record’s moody, overall drizzled tone, but its aim to boast Morgan’s ability to filter opposing textures into one formidable pedigree is dead-on. From there, Loscil does what Loscil does best, engaging various facets of a singular theme into cohesive brain-candy. Motorizing his still-life puddles with padded bass and rain-sheet rhythms, ‘Shallow Water Blackout’ is at once static and oscillating while even ‘Showers Of Ink’ - the furthest ambient plain on record – undulates on its own cerebral momentum. Forgive the liquid hyperbole but it must be said: Endless Falls is the sound of dub drowned-out, its heavy accents barely detectable in waves, its richness amplified to waterlogged ears.

The last thing you’d expect to distract from this overcast of steadfast atmospheres is a human voice, above all that of Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, so it’s a curious finale when ‘The Making of Grief Point’ ends the disc on such a wild-card experiment. In spoken-word’s great divide between pretentious and exciting, Bajar’s monologue lands shruggingly in the middle, partly because it discusses ambient music during Endless Falls’ least ambient track but mostly because Bejar’s aimless conversation clutters what is an exciting piece of music sans collaboration. It’s far from unlistenable but when an album is so grippingly bottomless to wander through, a left-field guest vocalist isn’t on most listeners’ radars. In terms of Kranky ambience, Endless Falls matches the lasting quality of Tim Hecker’s An Imaginary Country by chasing a more nuanced, serene muse. A triumphant return for Loscil.

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