‘You’ll never get it, if you don’t slow down my friend, I mean your hardly even looking at the pictures…’ so says Paul Auster’s Augie Wren in the 1995 film Smoke as he shows yet another album of photographs all shot in the same spot at the same time everyday, a hobby which he calls ‘his project’. Wren is fascinated with the simple things; the light, the shade and the hidden detail that goes unnoticed in everyday scenes. The prolific Scott Morgan aka Loscil is an electronica producer similarly driven by themes of memory and location. His latest set Sketches from New Brighton evokes a small park overlooking the port authority in Vancouver, a ‘dialogue with the environment’ that is stuffed with memory, all passing ships and morning mist.
The opener Khanamoot is a gorgeous glitchy soundscape chock full of melodic changes which provides our first engagement with Morgan’s locale. The sense of the everyday made epic continues into Hastings Sunrise where filter shifted minor progressions provide a rich evocation of harbourside atmospheres and the architecture of memory. The track has an elemental beauty not too far distant from Burial, and something of the earthy sensuality of The Cinematic Orchestra. The tracks are long but do not feel overlong, developing sonically and thematically, the consistent pulses propelling us forward, allowing the listener to become fully immersed in the reflections.
These shifting soundscapes and tonalities conjure emotion from seemingly few actual sources. The gorgeous Cascadia Terminal is a case in point. A gradually building drone piece is punctuated by gently phasing textures suggesting melodies and changes which eventually emerge and transform the piece– diaphanous and dreamlike but underpinned by purpose. The secret lies in the stories told by the sounds, the details of their evolution, and an execution that resists over embellishment. There is a real sense of place here and that is what sets these very contemporary tone poems apart. Highly individual, evocative and personal, they hit just the right balance and are the more resonant as a result.