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Endless Falls

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Album Review

Endless Falls, Scott Morgan’s first Loscil album since 2006’s Plume, reveals that while the producer’s approach has remained basically the same since Triple Point, he develops new dimensions with each release. As with his previous work, the album’s pieces are focused around a central theme — and Endless Falls’ main motif is especially apt for an ambient artist. Morgan was inspired by the rain that washes over his home base of Vancouver, and field recordings of storms that he made in his backyard flow in and out of nearly every track here. Rain is also a clear influence on the rest of Morgan’s beautifully integrated sonic palette, which spans delicate pitter-pat percussion, limpid pealing tones, and deeper-than-deep bass that rumbles like thunder. This aquatic sound isn’t like the almost unfathomable depths Morgan explored on Submers, however — it’s gentler and more introspective, reflecting that these tracks were made in and for rainy days and nights. Morgan gets especially abstract on the opening title track, which melds the rain with serene drones and scalp-tingling sub bass that eventually gives way to strings courtesy of violinist Kim Koch. Later, Robert Sparks’ bass recorder on “Fern and Robin” adds to the piece’s impression of a forest drying off after a spring shower, while “Showers of Ink” becomes one of Endless Falls’ most transporting tracks with little else besides a skeletal rhythm and a bassline with Zen-like simplicity. Though all of Endless Falls is as subtle as ambient should be, Morgan does let the suggestion of melody slip into the foreground of some of the most striking tracks. On “Estuarine,” the piano alternates between playing ghostly fragments of melody and adding its own textural washes to the windy tones and sonar-like pings around it, while “Shallow Water Blackout” and “Dub for Cascadia” boast overtones that are more elusive and beguiling than an upfront tune. However, the album’s biggest departure appears on its final track: “The Making of Grief Point” features Morgan’s Destroyer bandmate Dan Bejar delivering a monologue about the most anguishing parts of the creative process, and his words and the music around him each make the other even more poignant. Endless Falls’ mix of old and new maintains Morgan’s reputation as one of the most consistent, and consistently interesting, producers out there.

Customer Reviews

An apology to Loscil

For almost ten years I have been listening to Loscil and have enjoyed, or been expanded by, every moment. Yet for some reason I always considered him somehow less than Mille Plateaux, 12k, or Raster-based artists like Tim Hecker, GAS, Shuttle358, or Taylor Deupree. Well, no more! I now feel it the other-way-around - in truth, the only one of the aforementioned artists that is similar to Loscil in mood and tone is Shuttle. For those of you who, like me, adore anything Dan Abrams does but cannot bear the distance between releases, Loscil is just for you. Everything he does is golden, yet Endless Falls is not only singular for Loscil but the myriad of genres he encompasses therein. An extraordinary release.

Headphone Commute Review

It begins and ends with rain. But when the waterfalls subside, a picturesque landscape reveals itself through haze and fog. Vast fields of textural sound unfold beneath the soaring heights, with a slight pulse of bass vibrations, originating from the unexplored depths, and an echoing muffled synth line, dying in the cavernous emptiness of this landscape. With a microscopic nod to dub, Loscil weaves sonic parachutes that lift up beyond the clouds and slowly coast down to earth, only to have it curve beneath them, in an endless fall. Endless Falls is Scott Morgan's fifth full length album on Chicago's Kranky, not counting the digital freebie, Stases, released out by a net-label, One. Endless Falls also comes on the heels of Strathcona Variations digital EP, released by Ghostly International in October 2009. I was sure that the follow-up full length was going to be put out by Ghostly as well. But, alas, Morgan returns to Kranky, which has been the home for his last four albums, Triple Point (2001), Submers (2002), First Narrows (2004) and Plume (2006). Since Plume, Morgan has been busy developing his ambient soundscapes, complimenting looped drones with subliminal melodies and modulated bass. The intricately designed dense textures wrap one's unoccupied consciousness in melancholy, sadness and reflection. The mood fluctuates the listener from wakefulness to hypnotic dream states, crackling and clicking with stripped down rhythms and wet minor pads. On the last nine minute piece, "The Making Of Grief Point", Morgan features a long spoken word piece by Daniel Bejar (member of indie band, Destroyer, for which Morgan plays the drums and saxophone), delivered softly and deliberately, over a pulsing tone and walking synth notes through an unresolved chord. This is the first time Loscil brings vocals of any kind into his work. About this choice, Scott Morgan states: "The collaboration with Dan made us both incredibly nervous. Dan felt out of his element doing 'spoken word' but rose to the challenge. I felt self-conscious about changing the listening perspective from abstract, ambient music into foreground, conscious listening. The first time I heard Dan's voice recording I was terrified and was tempted to call the whole thing off. I listened to it a few more times and it completely grew on me. Now I can't imagine that piece without his performance. I love Dan's use of words, his vocal rhythms and the intimate intensity of his voice." Additional collaborators on the album include the return of Jason Zumpano on piano, Kim Koch on strings and Robert Sparks on bass recorder. Scott's four year old daughter, Sadie, is responsible for providing the cover art for the album, taken from the backseat of the family car. Check out an interview with the photographer on Loscil's Blog. Endless Falls is incredibly gorgeous, sublime and subtle yet precise. Recommended for fans of Pole and Gas, as well as Stars of the Lid, Christopher Bissonnette and Tim Hecker. "The answer to the making of grief point is picnic baskets filled with blood."

A great album

Like the best albums, I think, it grows on you with each listening. It's now in my top ten, though I grant that changes a lot.

Biography

Born: Canada

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Scott Morgan apparently appropriated his Loscil alter ego from the operation code within the sound synthesis system Csound. Although he admitted he rarely used Csound to create his compelling minimalist recordings, he asserted that looping and oscillating were the basics of his music-making process. 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, he...
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Endless Falls, Loscil
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