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Loess

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Album Review

It's nice to hear a band with a sound that is so immediately recognizable and yet so hard to pigeonhole. The music of Loess (a duo consisting of Clay Emerson and Ian Pullman) is clearly electronica, but it is neither dance music nor ambient; it shares with the ambient tradition a tendency toward quietude and soft textures, but like dance music it frequently has a beat. It's just that the sounds and textures, even when soft, are sometimes a bit more disconcerting than is usual with ambient music, and the beat, even when steady, is rarely aggressive enough to move anyone off of his or her tush. The promotional materials suggest this as a descriptor: "Soothing sounds for spaceships." That's not bad. Another one might be: "Songs of seduction by robotic whales." "Pleuston" offers apologetic-sounding low-frequency synthesizers, a tentative bass drum, and a click track on beats two and four; the charmingly titled "Keflex" (named after an industrial-strength antibiotic) features some very clever manipulations of what sound like vocal samples. And at the very end, eight minutes into the final track, there's a hidden treasure — a long and eerie composition that offers heavy echo and severely twisted choral sounds. If you're not sure this is your cup of tea, it probably isn't. On the other hand, if you're the person this album is aimed at you probably knew that two sentences into this review.

Loess, Loess
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