Loscil – Plume (Kranky/Inertia)


The material on Loscil’ 2002 release Submers seems to quite literally originate from the ocean’ depths, the listener made to feel as if the recording’ blurred transmissions are being picked up by sonar from some mysterious and long-undiscovered location. A similar submersive quality infuses 2004′ First Narrows and re-emerges on Plume too, specifically on tracks like “Motoc” and “Steam,” yet the newly-added sounds (the gleam of Josh Lindstrom’ vibes and xylophone, for example, and the delicate glow of Jason Zumpano’ Rhodes piano) have brought the material up to the open air, rendering it less hermetic and more expansive. With its gentle stream of aquatic pitter-patter, “Chinook,” for instance, unspools in characteristic Loscil manner but, the moment Lindstrom’ vibes appear, the piece is not only warmed but invigorated by his humanizing presence; believe it or not, there’ even a slightly funky feel to the rhythm, maybe the first time the words “Loscil’ and “funky’ have appeared in the same sentence.

In general, though, the fourth full-length from Vancouver-based sound artist Scott Morgan doesn’ depart radically from the established Loscil sound—it’s still serene (“Halcyon” pushing it to its meditative extreme) and there’ still a sense of carefully-calibrated flow and development. As he did with the material on First Narrows, Morgan creates loose structures for Plume over which live players improvise but, unlike before, he largely refrains from editing the live passes. Consequently, the material flows more naturally and registers as a collection of live as opposed to constructed takes. Among the guests, Krista Marshall drapes E-bow guitar across the softly churning “Rorschach” while Stephan Wood does the same in “Zephyr” and “Charlie.” The latter is especially lovely, particularly when Wood’ No Pussyfooting-styled Frippertronics bleed across Lindstrom’ glimmering vibes patterns.

Ron Schepper


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