Album Reviews

Loscil: Clara – “sprawling collages”

The Canadian producer returns with more spatial bliss.

Vancouver’s loscil (a.k.a. Scott Morgan) has spent years quietly going about his business as one of the most unassuming, underrated producers on the planet.

Inspired by a three-minute composition performed by a 22-piece string orchestra in Budapest, loscil returns with his fourteenth long-player, Clara – a collection of subtle textures that are presented like soft brush strokes across the canvass.

Essentially, loscil is to the kranky label what Shellac is to Primavera. The quintessential house act and without loscil’s presence, the ambient touchstone label wouldn’t be the same.

While not all of the Canadian’s work has appeared on kranky over the years, the two provide the perfect foil. Morgan‘s soundscapes operate as a key reference point, his methods undoubtedly all encompassing across the experimental music landscape, underpinning the kranky stable.

While Clara quite literally expands on the ideas loscil has spent the last two decades harnessing and refining, it’s the longest oeuvre we’ve heard from the producer for some time. While some may be put off by its length (72 minutes), fear not –loscil’s aural meanderings operate in wide berths. Not soundscapes to immerse in, but more for letting them wash over you.

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It’s always difficult to pinpoint key tracks from loscil’s work. His albums should be endured from start to finish, with loops and undulations that weave like a fine thread through the tapestry.

Loscil - Clara

Producers talk about the concept of sound design but long before this became a buzzword for PRs and musical scholars alike, loscil has been ahead of the curve. There are no better examples than Lumina and Vespera; sprawling collages akin to a slow-motion soundtrack we’d maybe associate with a producer such as, say, The Sight Below.

The noirish ambience of Stella cuts through the fog on a riverbank, while the distorted beehive drone of Sol sees loscil peaking over the horizon.

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And with that, we arrive at Clara’s climax in the eponymous closing track. A swelling drone composition that makes the walls sweat and buckle. It’s one of the most aggressive pieces of music loscil has ever gifted us.

Loscil’s music is made for cinema as much as it is for meditate background noise. Clara is something that sounds so simplified on the surface, but exploring beyond that and it’s clear that Morgan possesses a unique proficiency where he leaves no stone unturned. We shouldn’t be surprised, though. Morgan has been producing these sort of results for years and on Clara, he continues to impress.

Clara is out now via kranky. Purchase at Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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