Saturday, 17 August 2019

Loscil - Equivalents

Album: Equivalents
Artist: Loscil
Label: Kranky
Catalogue no: KRANK221

     1.      Equivalent 1
     2.      Equivalent 3
     3.      Equivalent 6
     4.      Equivalent 5
     5.      Equivalent 2
     6.      Equivalent 8
     7.      Equivalent 7
     8.      Equivalent 4

My only other encounter with Loscil (aka Canadian Scott Morgan) has been with his 2011 album for Glacial Movements Records, Coast/Range/Arc, which I haven’t heard in an age (it’s in some box somewhere, remaining unpacked since we moved some years ago). Fortunate it was, then, that notice of this release came up on a Facebook group feed and in consequence my reacquaintance with this project is most welcome.

Eight tracks of deep glacial ambient and all numbered out of sequence; I can’t say why that may be, but I suspect there’s no particular reason behind the move. Then again it could just simply be that, after having composed the pieces and naming them, the artist decided that the suite as a whole flowed better in this way.

One thing that I can say without fear of contradiction is that this is an absolutely scintillating album, an exhibition of canvases depicting a multitude of moods and perceptions, ephemeral and long-lasting, shifting mists of ideas and concepts, some delineated more fully than others with some overt and others subliminal. Above all though is that it provides a metaphorical magic carpet ride, that it simultaneously energises and elucidates, that it informs us of new perspectives and points of view. It takes us on a trip through icy landscapes, through vertiginous chasms, and snow-covered alpine ranges. The air is clear here, unsullied and pure, the snow below us is completely unmarked, and the presence of man is minimal. It soars and flies gracefully and effortlessly, sometimes exhilaratingly skimming over ground and at others lifting us up above the clouds. It’s an enlightening aural experience, in the sense that it shines a torch on the beautiful wilderness below, a pristine kingdom of unblemished majesty and splendour.

Highlights for me include ‘Equivalent 1’, a slow, meandering kayak ride through high-sided gulleys and gorges on crystal waters, enlivened by waterfalls tumbling from the heights above, foam and rainbow-tinted spray hanging as if suspended in a moment of time. The sky is pure azure, without a cloud marring its gem-like clarity.

‘Equivalent 5’, a dizzying flight through the stratosphere amongst angelic visions and voices, an epiphanic experience bringing with it an intense clarity of connection with the natural world below. It’s almost as if the breath of Gaia can be heard, and its beating heart felt – a breathtaking and invigorating vision that transcends all boundaries and melts away unnatural classifications. ‘Equivalent 7’ is a slowly unfolding drone interspersed with gentle waves of icy-clear counterpoint, a pulsating, living, ebbing and flowing of time and movement. And to close out, a meditative trance-inducing drone floats in on wings of gossamer on ‘Equivalent 4’, and this time the journey focuses on the inward trip, and we become aware of ourselves and our connections to the endless flows of life and the patterns that keep the world in motion and ever-evolving. It’s a restful track to end on, an appropriate punctuation mark to conclude both the album and our explorations with – a fitting emphasis on the essential cycles of energy that ensure that the world and its systems continue working.

A triumph of an album: a painterly depiction of spectacular land- and mindscapes, a mesmerising flight through the frozen beauties of otherworldly places in the isolated regions of our home planet where the influence of man is still very limited. It stirs the imagination and the pulse, sparking off visions of incomprehensibly dazzling vistas, and staggeringly magnificent natural wonders. At a time when we’re becoming more and more aware of the fragility of the delicate balance between the systems helping to support the world and our ignorant interactions with them, this is perhaps an opportune reminder that we must keep fighting and acting.


Available as a download, CD, and a double vinyl album from here:

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

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