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Ambient - Released August 16, 2019 | kranky

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On albums such as Endless Falls and Sea Island, Loscil's Scott Morgan used nature as the inspiration for music that was equally impressionistic and deeply evocative of its sources. With Equivalents, he takes this abstraction a step farther: Named for and inspired by a series of photographs of clouds from the '20s and '30s by Alfred Stieglitz -- whose work helped advance photography as a form of modern art -- Loscil's 12th album is another set of beautiful ambient tracks and also a fascinating meditation on artistic interpretation. While it might be easy to assume what an ambient album based on skyscapes sounds like, Equivalents subverts stereotypes. Instead of relying on airy washes of tones, Morgan brings a surprising amount of density and dimension to "Equivalent 3"'s somber piano, brass, and undulating atmospheres. On "Equivalent 5," the call and response of flutey tones and deeper, rumbling ones builds to a beaming climax that's remarkably suspenseful. Even on calmer pieces like "Equivalent 5," whose sweeping mist is the closest the album comes to a "typical" ambient sound, there's a hint of turbulence that makes it far more dynamic than might be expected. While Stieglitz's still images were so powerful that they suggested movement, Morgan's musical interpretations of his photographs have the advantage of unfolding over time. The composer makes the most of this on Equivalents, using shifts and nuances to evoke not just the skies and clouds in Stieglitz's work but also the photographer's impressions of them (and, of course, Morgan's own impressions of those impressions). Morgan uses these complex musical and conceptual layers brilliantly on "Equivalent 1," where gusting textures break into eddies that skip over stormy pianos and a roiling atmosphere that translate the intensity of Stieglitz's imagery into sound. "Equivalent 6" is just as compelling, shifting its focus between wavering tones and celestial drones and before a dulcet melody emerges from a clearing. As the album ranges from the delicate puffs of "Equivalent 8" to the drifting radiance of "Equivalent 4," Morgan creates a sound world that's so transfixing that it's sometimes surprising when a piece reaches its end. Stieglitz's and Morgan's work both speak to the desire to preserve the power of a moment, and to make something fleeting eternal, whether with a photograph or a piece of ambient music. There's something noble about that, and on Equivalents, Morgan captures it eloquently. ~ Heather Phares
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Ambient - Released November 17, 2014 | kranky

Loscil's Scott Morgan operates at such a consistently high level that the cohesion between his albums makes them even more immersive. Sea Island feels like an evolution of the sounds and ideas he explored on his previous full-length, 2012's excellent Sketches from New Brighton, and the short-form releases that followed it, the piano-driven Intervalo and his split EP with the British ambient group Fieldhead. Morgan sets an introspective, dark, but not oppressive mood similar to that of Sketches with tracks like the misty "In Threes," and, as always, uses small shifts to achieve seismic results; the way "Holding Pattern" warms up its chilly, flute-like tones and electric piano is almost imperceptible from moment to moment. He explores fragmented melodies in similar fashion, shrinking them to sonar-like beeps on "Angle of Loll" and letting them flow on "Sturgeon Bank." Underscoring the connection Sea Island has to Morgan's recent work, the album features collaborations with Intervalo pianist Kelly Wyse and Fieldhead violinist Elaine Reynolds as well as returning vibraphonist Josh Lindstrom and keyboardist Jason Zumpano. Morgan's pieces allow them to shine as much as he does: album opener "Ahull" showcases Lindstrom's spiraling lines, which recall Cliff Martinez's haunting Solaris score; Reynolds' playing is subsumed into glowing tones on "Catalina 1943"; and Wyse's poignant performance on "En Masse" is a reminder of what made Intervalo so special. Another standout, "Bleeding Ink," uses Ashley Pitre's wordless vocals to add a unique intimacy as well as a respite from the album's more ominous moments. Elsewhere, Morgan employs the last vestiges of his dub techno roots to give Sea Island structure and momentum; "Sea Island Murders" begins with gasps of melody and a subtly pulsing beat that bottoms out midway through the song, like the conclusion of a chase; "Iona" takes the opposite tack, initially floating on bell-like tones before a windswept beat overtakes it. Techniques like these ensure that Sea Island's generous length offers a deep dive into Loscil's world that remains compelling from start to finish. ~ Heather Phares
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Ambient - Released November 11, 2016 | kranky

Loscil's Scott Morgan recorded Monument Builders during a difficult time that also spawned For Greta, an EP benefiting a friend's daughter battling a rare form of bone cancer. On this full-length, he gives that sense of sadness and frustration a global scope as he reflects humanity's toll on the environment. Monument Builders' grey and black vistas were also inspired by a moldering VHS copy of Koyaanisqatsi, the renowned nature documentary that expressed its themes as much through Philip Glass' iconic score as its striking visuals. Even without an accompanying film, the album feels like a lo-res sequel to Glass' music: Morgan makes it easy to envision the blighted landscapes evoked on pieces like "Anthropocene," a term referring to human-caused climate changes that rivals Koyaanisqatsi (a Hopi phrase meaning "life out of balance") when it comes to pointed titles. "Drained Lake"'s ragged, unpredictable beats suggest decaying foundations, while the arpeggiated synths on "Red Tide" feel like the unchecked growth of an invasive species. This is one of Monument Builders' clearest homages to Glass, but Morgan also riffs on his own body of work. He goes deeper into the dark, unsettled-sounding territory of Sea Island on "Monument Builders," girding its mournful trumpet and spectral electronics with sub-bass that adds to the sinking feeling he creates throughout the album. Indeed, no knowledge of Morgan's influences is necessary to understand the grief and anger radiating from Monument Builders -- this is the ambient music version of screaming at listeners to wake up. Since this is a Loscil album, there's as much lyrical beauty as bleakness within "Straw Dogs"' aching pauses or the gasping tones on "Weeds." Monument Builders is a powerful reminder that ambient music is a fine conduit for emotionally and politically charged messages, and it's one of Morgan's finest works yet. ~ Heather Phares
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Electronic/Dance - Released September 22, 2009 | Ghostly International

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Electronic/Dance - Released March 1, 2010 | kranky

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Electronic/Dance - Released November 1, 2002 | kranky

Clearly a producer with an unapologetic love for the conceptual, Scott Morgan's second album for Kranky as Loscil takes on an aquatic theme -- each track is named after a submarine. However, not a whole lot has changed in Morgan's approach from his debut. These tracks sound only a little more aqueous than the ones on Triple Point, continuing to carry wide-open spatial qualities, with the odd hint of dub occasionally thrown in for variation (with its lathery suds of dubspace, "Le Plongeur" rivals Rhythm & Sound's best work). The only significant difference is the emphasis on waves of rhythm over thumps and pulses. "Triton" is the most wonderful thing Morgan has produced yet, an elegantly dramatic, filmic composition based on a submerged two-note bass hum, a series of rhythmic noise effects, and what sounds like a sampled and drastically altered orchestral arrangement. The notes are emitted lucidly, but they resemble a string arrangement as heard through some type of mildly muffling filter -- a body of water, perhaps? If the only track on the disc that follows it hadn't been produced in honor of the 118 people who died on the Kursk, a Russian sub, it would've been the perfect closing. Submers tops Morgan's impressive debut and provides further proof that the field of ambient techno continues to have plenty to offer. If Markus Guentner's In Moll was 2001's surrogate Gas record, Submers is the 2002 edition. ~ Andy Kellman
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Electronic/Dance - Released May 22, 2006 | kranky

The immediately noticeable thing about Loscil's Plume is how engaging it is right from the first waves of quiet static that so aptly complement the smoke stack artwork. Instantly "Motoc" sets the tone for the remainder of the album, whose gentle percussion and pulses of static supply the rhythm bed, which other artists using organic instruments (xylophone, vibes, guitar, Rhodes piano) quietly improvise over. The band are disciplined in their freedom, playing melodic passages with sparseness and attention to timing. This creates a tranquil and melancholic mood music that not only runs throughout Plume, but helps to carry over some continuity from the serenity and density of Loscil's previous releases. The wispy nature of "Steam" is not unlike the sounds found on labelmate Christopher Bissonette's debut recording Periphery, while "Chinook" is the perfect soundtrack for a rainy spring afternoon. An impressive release from an artist who never fails to deliver the goods. ~ Rob Theakston
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Ambient - Released September 10, 2012 | kranky

Scott Morgan spent the two albums he made prior to Sketches from New Brighton, Endless Falls and Coast/Range/Arc, expanding on his subtle ambient approach. On this collection, however, he pulls in a bit, using the experience from those explorations to craft something just as rich as those albums in spite (or perhaps because) of its simplicity. As with all of Morgan's work, Sketches from New Brighton establishes a striking sense of place within its music, not just because it was inspired by an actual location -- in this case, an oceanside park near the Vancouver Port Authority -- but because it has so much depth. Over the course of the album, a handful of sounds combine in ways full of hushed beauty and creativity, emphasizing the sculptural nature of these tracks. "Khanahmoot" begins things with gentle but engaging gradations that prepare listeners for the more ambitious explorations to come. One of these is the eight-and-a-half-minute-long "Second Narrows" (whose name makes this album's connection to Loscil's 2004 album First Narrows more explicit). It's one of the most expansive showcases for Morgan's almost imperceptible shifts, as the dark pulse that makes up the album's heart is joined by delicately layered beats and synths that get more fractured and active as the song nears its close. On this song and the rest of Sketches from New Brighton, a watercolor softness and transparency to the sounds pull in listeners ever so gently and give an almost subliminally soothing effect to many of its tracks, such as "Container Ships," which feels nearly amniotic in its weightless intimacy, or the lulling warmth of "Coyote." However, not all of the album is so cozy: "Hastings Sunrise" boasts a sharply metallic tone that recalls a shakuhachi flute in its insistent loneliness, which envelops the rest of the track with a noir-ish glamour and mystery that make it all the more striking, and "Collision of the Pacific Gatherer"'s bassline adds an ominous undertone to the rippling electronics that overlay it. Yet these changes in mood are as subtle as everything else on the album; all the better to discover the different ways these songs flow into each other. Sketches from New Brighton may not be as immediately gripping as Endless Falls or Coast/Range/Arc, but its never-showy refinements are just as impressive in their own way. ~ Heather Phares
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Electronic/Dance - Released October 1, 2001 | kranky

The drummer from Destroyer, a fellow named Scott Morgan, moonlights as Loscil. With Triple Point, it appears he's made a laptop ambient concept record about thermodynamics. Some hints: "Hydrogen," "Discrete Entropy," "Fuel Exergy," "Enthalpy," and "Vapour." Wait -- the record isn't even close to being that boring. (And at least Morgan uses actual pronounceable words as titles for his compositions, rqkght? Rqkght.) Snagging the listener early on with the sublime pulsing of "Hydrogen," Morgan regularly finds a central texture or rhythm and applies as little ornamentation as possible for maximum impact. Throughout the remainder of these 60 minutes, the listener is treated to finely detailed and rather glitch-free ambient. Aside from the relatively amiable and forward flow of the opener, Triple Point vacillates between the haunting and the soothing. It's almost a shame that the record doesn't bear the logo of a label that's more known for delivering this type of thing. Having been released by Kranky -- a label that's nonetheless established and as forward-looking as they get -- their logo probably won't be able to attract the attention of experimental techno fans who remain loyal to a few select labels and choose not to venture outside of that tiny realm. Pay no mind to the label and pay no mind to the producer's locale (Vancouver isn't Cologne or Detroit); Triple Point is one of the finest -- and most varied -- ambient techno releases of 2001. ~ Andy Kellman
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Electronic/Dance - Released May 10, 2004 | kranky

Scott Morgan's -- aka Loscil -- third full-length is titled for the first gap in the entrance to the Burrard Inlet spanned by the Lion's Gate Bridge into Vancouver, his hometown, from the Pacific Ocean. The title is not an accident, as the notions of gap, time span, and movement in Morgan's new pieces offer a nocturnal view of the transition of fluid inner space. First Narrows also marks a first for Morgan: this is his first collaborative recording with live instruments. Morgan's generated sounds, from varied sources both organic and electronic, both musical and found atmospheres, were custom programmed and processed with the notion of time displacement built in -- the programs were designed as "flawed" so that no two performances of his sonic patches would ever be the same. Morgan then asked Jason Zumpano (Rhodes), Nyla Raney (cello), and Tim Loewen (guitar) to improvise over his aural constructions, and then edited and mixed the constructed electronic sounds with the live ones. The end result feels unlike anything he's ever done before, but retains his trademark moodiness -- in spades. Pulses and sequences flit by through the middle of washes of white noise and played sound, phrases become long passages and then disappear as gradually as they appeared, channels blend, drop out and shift, giving a form to the formless and then dissembling it into the ether. Over five tracks, this heartbeat ambience and alien soundscape architecture layer, dissemble, stretch, float, commingle, and undulate through the ears of the listener who is, in turn, taken out of her or his own time-space continuum. Spooky, lush, warm, watery, and even moving, First Narrows is a glorious experiment in aural atmospherics. ~ Thom Jurek
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Classical - Released September 2, 2016 | 1631 Recordings

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Ambient - Released June 11, 2019 | kranky

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Rock - Released October 28, 2016 | Paper Bag Records