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Sea Island

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Album Review

Loscil's Scott Morgan operates at such a consistently high level that the cohesion between his albums makes them even more immersive. Sea Island feels like an evolution of the sounds and ideas he explored on his previous full-length, 2012's excellent Sketches from New Brighton, and the short-form releases that followed it, the piano-driven Intervalo and his split EP with the British ambient group Fieldhead. Morgan sets an introspective, dark, but not oppressive mood similar to that of Sketches with tracks like the misty "In Threes," and, as always, uses small shifts to achieve seismic results; the way "Holding Pattern" warms up its chilly, flute-like tones and electric piano is almost imperceptible from moment to moment. He explores fragmented melodies in similar fashion, shrinking them to sonar-like beeps on "Angle of Loll" and letting them flow on "Sturgeon Bank." Underscoring the connection Sea Island has to Morgan's recent work, the album features collaborations with Intervalo pianist Kelly Wyse and Fieldhead violinist Elaine Reynolds as well as returning vibraphonist Josh Lindstrom and keyboardist Jason Zumpano. Morgan's pieces allow them to shine as much as he does: album opener "Ahull" showcases Lindstrom's spiraling lines, which recall Cliff Martinez's haunting Solaris score; Reynolds' playing is subsumed into glowing tones on "Catalina 1943"; and Wyse's poignant performance on "En Masse" is a reminder of what made Intervalo so special. Another standout, "Bleeding Ink," uses Ashley Pitre's wordless vocals to add a unique intimacy as well as a respite from the album's more ominous moments. Elsewhere, Morgan employs the last vestiges of his dub techno roots to give Sea Island structure and momentum; "Sea Island Murders" begins with gasps of melody and a subtly pulsing beat that bottoms out midway through the song, like the conclusion of a chase; "Iona" takes the opposite tack, initially floating on bell-like tones before a windswept beat overtakes it. Techniques like these ensure that Sea Island's generous length offers a deep dive into Loscil's world that remains compelling from start to finish.

Customer Reviews

Tops

Loscil is at the top of their form. I have been waiting as well. So glad they are here. I love ambient spaces. This is what they always create. I crave what they do.. nunff’ said

One of his best

I've got everything from Triple Point onward - and this is one of his most complex, subtle and masterful so far; while there are lots of great ambient/beat/drone artists out there - Loscil remains a step above.

One small misgiving

I have a good number but not all of Loscil's albums, First Narrows, Plume, Strathcona Variations, Endless Falls, Sketches from New Brighton, & now, Sea Island. I am right there with the many reviewers who extoll praises on this excellent body of multi-dimensional, profoundly affecting work. I keep my Loscil albums together in a playlist for those times when I want an extended Loscil listening experience, straight through or shuffled. I was excited to use an iTunes gift card to purchase a new Loscil album, Sea Island. I am thrilled with it. It fits very nicely in my playlist with just one exception. For me, the best pieces (songs, if you must) in this genre create audio spaces that can be explored anew with each listen. In the Sea Island album, I find one track that I cannot listen to in that manner, "Bleeding Ink". The voice singing on this track completely occupies the foreground of the audio space &, for me, prevents the multi-faceted, in-depth listening I find possible on all the other tracks. I simply do not include "Bleeding Ink" in my Loscil playlist, nor do I include "The Making of Grief Point" from the Endless Falls album.

Biography

Born: Canada

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Born in Canada, Scott Morgan apparently appropriated his Loscil alter ego from the operation code within the sound synthesis system Csound. Although he admits he rarely actually uses Csound to create his compelling minimalist recordings, he asserts that looping and oscillating are the basics of his music-making process. Loscil's debut, Triple Point, was named after the scientific term for the temperature where a material can exist with its solid, liquid, and gas phases all in equilibrium. Based on...
Full Bio