on December 5, 2004
I discovered the music of Brian Eno while in college in the 80s (I was a U2 fan and had a friend that practically stood on his head to get me to give Eno a try). Ever since those days, I've been on a musical journey of sorts looking for music that might somehow bring me to the places that Eno could. The music of Loscil, specifically "First Narrows" is one of the few albums I've encountered since then that approaches the delicate ebb and flow of those ambient marvels.
Those not accustomed to the "flavors" of modern electronic music, specifically what is today called minimal or dub, might initially be put off by "First Narrows," perhaps thinking that the rhythms have no place in an ambient landscape. However, with time the gentle rhythms simply melt into landscapes of warm Rhodes electric piano, echoed/wash guitars, and softened, treated synth washes.
The ambient feel, and album and song titles at times conjure images of bays or coastal areas, and the gentle rhythms pulse like ripples on a quiet body of water.
The mood is not so downbeat or depressing, but rather pensive with a slightly optimistic, driven quality.
I've owned this album for just over three months now and simply cannot stop listening. I also strongly recommend the prior album, the 2002 "submers" also on the Kranky label.
on February 20, 2005
I agree with the other reviewer. It's really hard to put my finger on what I like about certain ambient/minimal music. So my review will probably be pretty lame. All I know is Loscil achieves what 95% of what other artsy/minimal/electronic artists cannot: A true sound peninsula. The sound of Loscil is always connected to melody, harmony and rhythm. Yet, it jets out just enough to let the listener use his/her own imagination. I never have understood why most ambient music tries to create a depressing sonic landscape of creepy, lonely music. Loscil creates organic music. With a touch of the Caribbean dub, and a warming reverb, the simple rhythm creates an affectionate feeling, not one of an iron asteroid fulfilling a cold orbit in space. All right, I'm starting to sound like everyone else on Amazon. Time for a pre-sleep hour of Loscil induced relaxation before I meet the realties of the another work day starting sharp a 0500.
on February 9, 2007
I own this album as well as Plume and Triple Point. Hands down, this is the best of those. The music is seamless, listenable and captures your attention. This album is the most cohesive of the others by Loscil with a clear underlying musical score. If you're new to Loscil, this is the place to start. Triple Point is my second favorite and Plume is third. From the sound samples, Submers sounds too much like Plume, which doesn't have the variety of tonalities I find so enjoyable with First Narrows.
on July 4, 2006
MARK TEPPO's igloomag.com REVIEW ::
It's not until "Cloisters," the final track of First Narrows, that I really hear the live instrumentation that Scott Morgan has begun to weave into his work as Loscil. Maybe I'm just dense or maybe it's the masterful way that he integrates the piano, guitar, and cello into his electronic compositions that they haven't been identifiable as distinct instruments until this point. For his third record on Kranky, Morgan has evolved from his deep water dub excursions and begun to experiment with customized patches and software triggers which generate random soundscapes. Over these minimal glitch inflected landscapes and dub atmospheres, he's added the work of the live musicians in an effort to craft a record that is organic and vitally alive.
It's no heartbreak to start this record over again. In fact, it runs on endless loop quite often during the day, a placid stream coursing through my headphones waiting for me to dip into it again. Loscil's work is like the warm pulse of an ocean current drifting lazily about the world, carrying with it all sorts of tiny elements. There are gentle rhythms --hints of percussive elements that dapple the current like tiny crustaceans -- and there are tender melodies like gaseous jellyfish that ebb and flow with the current, their color and texture changing as they are caressed by the moving water. The opening track, "Sickbay," begins mid-stream as if we have just plunged into the current and are swiftly carried along like the opening moments of Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. "River run, past Adam and Eve..."
Through the metallic dub echo and the fine grained static of "Lucy Dub," you can hear the chatter of Tim Loewen's guitar against a careful arpeggio from Jason Zumpano and the fender rhodes piano. Change occurs slowly as rounded drones begin to drift across the musical landscape. The title of the record, First Narrows, refers to the gap at the entrance of the Burrard Inlet which leads to Vancouver harbor from the Pacific Ocean, and a great deal of this record hangs on the edge as if it just about to cross a threshold. "First Narrows" unspools like a sentimental journey, a wanderer returning to a place he had once forsaken and thought he would never see again. The interplay between the guitar and piano creates a melody both wistful and hopeful, filled with yearning and a sense of closure. The guitar whines with just a hint of the mythology of the Old West like a theme song for the aged gunslinger returning home.
Loscil's work is like an underwater recording of a love fest between Pole and the Basic Channel sound; it is an aquatic marriage of dub and static. First Narrows finds Scott Morgan branching out and expanding the methodology he uses to create his sounds, both through the fabrication of customized sound programming and the mixing in of improvised instrumentation. First Narrows is ambience caught between the sea and the sunrise and makes you feel like you are floating on one and being warmed by the other. Fantastic.
>> igloomag.com <<
on September 24, 2009
I absolutely love Loscil and this is hands-down my favorite of his albums. I think it's one of the best relaxation albums I've ever heard- so warm, organic, and soothing that it breaks free of any label you'd want to assign it. Is it ambient? I don't really think so; there's too much percussion and the chord progressions demand attention. Is it minimal? I dunno, it sure is dense. Is it electronic? Nope, there's live players and it sounds way less sequenced than you would expect from a label like that. It's all and none of the above- simply one of the most inviting and beautiful records in my collection. It's the kind of music that you can listen to intently on your headphones, or throw on your stereo as a backdrop to your night.
If you're curious about Loscil, this is where you should start. If you're kinda curious about ambient but don't know where to start, this would be pretty perfect as well- it's extremely accessible.
on August 12, 2007
I really like this group. They put out somewhat hypnotic (but never repetitious and boring), interesting ambient music that I could hear in the background all day long without it getting annoying or boring It takes artistic restraint and taste to make this stuff. You have to know what NOT to put on the track and leave well enough alone. You also need to be able to come up with interesting and novel sounds and combinations. Loscil does this. All of their albums are great and this one is no exception. If you like Eno's best stuff, this will be what you are looking for.
on November 1, 2012
I've purchased almost all of Loscil's cd's. They all are ambient. And absolutely refreshing, soothing and consistently gorgeous. If you crave music that has at its heart solace, peace, and nourishment of heart & soul that only certain music embodies & radiates - you'll simply love First Narrows. Loscil's music garnishes ambient, glowing musical soudscapes cradled in soft insinuating, distant clicks/heartbeats/syncopations that are otherworldly suggestible & inspiring. This is music you can turn & listen to for its sheer beauty - or music that allows you to work & concentrate on whatever you choose while it simply bathes you in the glow of its refreshment & stillness without in any manner competing for your attention. Getting the sense I love this cd. Deed I do. Sample it for yourself on Amazon as I did. If you like what you hear, you'll love having this music to turn to whenever you choose - guarenteed. Most highly recommended.
on January 8, 2008
I've been a big fan of ambient/new age/electronic music for a very long time-decades in fact. I've been away from it for the last few years, and have just started getting back into more of this music again. That said, I've been sampling some (relatively) new offerings, and have been rather neutral (at best) about most of them. This album, First Narrows, was quite a pleasant surprise. Its mellow enough to be relaxing but not so mellow that it puts me to sleep or spaces me out. Its actually quite *pretty*, a rarity for this type of music. For those who are audiophiles, this album is done very well, with very good imaging and a HUGE soundstage that is reasonably deep and *very* wide, extending WAY past my speakers. Why not 5 stars? I hate the case. I had trouble getting the disc out, and could not get the disc back without fear of damaging it. I had to put it in an extra jewel case I had.
on September 8, 2007
i just feel like i'm in a spaceship when i'm listening to this cd. its so smooth and harmonic, flows very steadily, got a great slow tempo to the whole cd and each song compliments the others very well so the cd as a whole just works perfectly. i'm not much on their other cds, this one is my fav.