Music

The Art of Engineering

Loscil Makes Space Sounds

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Loscil
Fri Aug 27
Holocene
1001 SE Morrison

I understand that the man who makes music under the name Loscil (Scott Morgan) is a sound engineer. Sound engineers are not supposed to be musicians, but rather a class of people who are concerned with the science of recording musicians. To the point: sound engineers are meant to be nothing more than technicians. But for the past 30 years--roughly since the birth of dub, a type of music invented by the genius of King Tubby--many sound engineers have extended their role in the production of music, from the science of recording it to the art of making it. Loscil is a part of that now-established tradition of blurring the lines between technician and artist, recording studio and musical instrument.

Loscil is based in Vancouver B.C., a city that has a thriving electronic experimental scene. However, very little of this music is ever heard outside of the city's limits, but much of it is surprisingly good and original. Loscil's reputation is concentrated in, but not entirely contained by Vancouver B.C., the city that happens to be the subject of his latest and third CD, First Narrows. Under the mighty Lions Gate Bridge is the geographic point called First Narrows, which is the primary ship passage into Vancouver from the Pacific Ocean.

The title of the mix CD that Berlin-based producers Scion made of Basic Channel's legendary, early to mid-'90s releases is called Arrange and Process. There is no better way to describe Loscil's music than that: it is the arrangement and processing of electronic noises and pulses. Though First Narrows combines electronically produced sounds with live instruments, the presence of the living doesn't weaken the whole, mechanical effect: Loscil arranges and then processes, or programs and then modulates each track, pleasantly disrupting the warm mini-systems with sudden drones here or dub echoes there. Like all recording technicians who make art, Loscil's First Narrows, as with his earlier work, is less about music and much, much more about the space in which music is made--it is, in the deepest sense, space music.

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