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First Narrows

First Narrows

I just had a heck of a busy week and most of that didn't involve sitting in front of a computer. It was mainly running too and fro and this way and that and now that things have calmed it feels like a lot of music that I should enjoy is simply too much for me right now. Instead, I feel like I need something that will sweep around me gently and warmly, slowly tugging me through my tasks while providing me with a backdrop that is active without completely overwhelming me. First Narrows is just that release, and after rotating through a small batch of discs it has again arrived in my player.

First Narrows is the third full-length release from Loscil (aka Scott Morgan) and it's the first release in which he uses real instrumentation and collaborations from other musicians. It's also the first release of his that doesn't have a loose sort of conceptual theme holding songs together (his first disc of Triple Point was based on chemical reactions and his second of Submers was written for submarines). If anything, First Narrows is maybe an ode to inspirational location (Morgan calls Vancouver home and the album is named after the space in which the main entry bridge into that city spans).

Loscil was one of the first true electronic artists signed to the Kranky label and his work is easily one of the more consistent on the label as well (electronic musician or not). Morgan has a way with textures and programming, and while there's nothing that's really dynamic on the release in terms of seriously grabbing ones attention, every track moves with an assured feel that easily keeps your interest. After some nice opening tracks, one of the best pieces on the album arrives in the album-titled "First Narrows." It's on this track that the fender rhodes and guitar contributions can actually be discerned, and while they're not overbearing, their loose noodling playes nicely into the delayed micro beats and drifting textural environments.

The following track of "Ema" is even better, mixing more fuzzy washes over reverbed guitars that shimmer out into the distance while the album closer of "Cloister" is the near-perfect mixture of delicate drones and subtle programming, mixing cello and electronics into an emotional close. Perhaps it was the conceptual ideas that helped create a bit more focus, because overall the release isn't quite as solid as his previous releases. There are still standout tracks and a quality of craft that put it above most of the stuff being created in a similar genre, though, so if you're into soft, minimal electronics (or previous work by Loscil), hunt this down.

Rating: 7