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Loscil - First Narrows

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Artist: Loscil

Album: First Narrows

Label: Kranky

Review date: Jul. 7, 2004

Scott Morgan is extremely adept at working within a theme. The palliative ocean hum of Submers, each track a lament for the submarine namesake. First Narrows follows decisively in this vein, with Morgan naming it after the first gap to the entrance of the Burrand Inlet, the pipeline from the Pacific to Vancouver. The tone is still aquatic, but the main thematic line is motion.

Morgan never simply slaps on a title. In fact, to some extent, the apparent process of naming songs sometimes feels a bit excessive in his earlier work. Of course, all of this changed with the release of Submers, an album completely bound by its nomenclature. This album is more of a bridge than the water it spans. Motion, traffic, the hum of travel, all are evoked here. The album becomes increasingly urbane as it nears the end, until “Cloister” leaves you floundering in the architecture of the city.

The album also stands as a substantial bridge for Loscil’s recording process. For the first time, there are other musicians playing along with Morgan’s clicks and synthesized tones. “Sickbay” starts things off much like Submers, without Tim Loewen, Nyla Rany, or Jason Zumpano playing much of a role, but as the album progresses, urbanity is brought forth as instruments emerge from the depths.

The buzz of electricity grows on “Ema” and hits it stride on “Mode,” a pulse of clipped treble. When “Brittle” slips into night, First Narrows reaches its destination and leaves us there to smother. Slow suffocation, with rhythm.

By Jacob Knabb

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