'Clara' Further Proves Loscil's Undying Commitment to a Concept
Published May 27, 2021Over his 22-year career, Scott Morgan (a.k.a. Loscil) has crafted music based on various conceptual muses, be it visual and musical (as with the photographs of clouds and piano samples on 2019's Equivalents) or even existential (life's resistance to dark forces on 2016's Monument Builders). Clara, his 13th LP — and first after a two-year excursion that consisted of him taking on audio-visual projects — finds the Canadian artist undergoing his most regulated confines yet.
The 10-track LP is pulled from a single source; a three-minute composition taken from a 22-piece string orchestra in Budapest, Hungary. If this conjures up the notion of Clara being an extremely limited and staid piece of art, you're probably not familiar with Morgan's methods. All 70 minutes of the LP ebb and flow in the same direction, as moods and tone clusters migrate across the entire recording, with only a select islands of musical respite to grasp on to. But this seems to be the point of Clara.
The record begins with possibly the most orthodox arrangement, as "Lux" finds Morgan using a snail's pace repetition to create the album's hypnotic mood and meditative flow. The warm and almost lurid "Lucida" shows off the work from the sampled orchestra excellently, as Morgan allows the strings and brass to brush up against each other, while anchoring both with a beacon pulse. A fragile single-digit synth throb found at the end of "Stella" gently snaps the fluttering drone of this 10-minute song, while the bubbling vibrations that appear in the middle of "Sol" are presented as parallel-universe crashing timpani.
Despite the varying runtimes of each track (which range between five and 10 minutes), Morgan ensures each movement is paced and encased similarly, keeping the integrity of the source material recognizable and intact. "Aura" and "Flamma," the dual centrepieces of the album's second half, fit together wonderfully, as the record's most spacious and minimal tracks find Morgan spilling processed waves of sound over a combined 15-minute bed of yearning synth and wandering keys. "Orta" works off of the album's opening repetition, as Morgan brings the pace of the album back to a heartbeat stride, allowing a skipping rhythm and a repeating muted gong to ease the listener into its final coda.
At a protracted 70 minutes, Morgan's latest may be a bit too arduous for its foundation, but Loscil has always been an artist unafraid to exhaust an idea to its fullest, and Clara proves this in spades. (Kranky)