A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Label: Alrealon Musique
Sounds Like: A warehouse in a black hole.
File Under: Soundscape, Field Recordings, Musique Concrete, Abstract, Dark Ambient, Dub
On Environs, Laica takes you on a journey down long concrete corridors, into a cavernous factory at the center of all knowing. The machinery of night pumps, groans and bilges; you can hear the distant sound of the sea.
In the music of Laica there’s a sense of something more concrete having been deliberately and forcibly rubbed away, leaving just a vague impression of a more tangible piece of music.
– Laica’s bandcamp
Laica has already been engaged in rubbing out the melody, leaving only the shell of music. Environs takes this goal to its conclusion, removing instrumentation all together, weaving two colossal sound collages out of only field recordings and sound manipulation.
Whenever the brain hears sounds in sequence, it will attempt to supply imagery for what’s going on. It’s one of the unique properties of listening to soundscapes/field recordings; it really is like watching a movie with the video turned off. Its disorienting, leaving you to figure out what’s going on, which makes it a much “hotter” (in McLuhan’s sense of the word) media, forcing you to provide yr own story-arc. It’s highly creative and imaginative work. When a producer is manipulating real world sound, it makes our sense of reality go all wonky. Recognizable sounds, like birdsong or footsteps, take on a sinister, unheimlich edge – it’s like watching yr mother melt in front of yr eyes.
Laica chops, slows, layers and slurs his recordings, dipping them in cavernous reverb, resonators, and placing them in granular suspended animation. Every producer alive must learn how to manipulate recorded audio; the future imagined by musique concrete and the Italian Futurists is here, and the whole world, and all of recorded history, is now our symphony and our plaything. It is essential to learn to do these things well, to master the tools of our production. Luckily, Laica shines in this regard; there’s not a harsh digital contour in sight, no tell-tale sampler artifacts, nothing to break the mood.
Environs is a place, like another dimension superimposed on top of our own. It’s like the infernal mental hospital, from Grave Encounters, or Leyland Kirby‘s haunted ballroom. It’s a murky, subjective place; you can’t see very well. Environs is an industrial record, in the original sense of the word; it is like listening to the sound of machines. The huge reverb suggests that, wherever you are, it’s HUGE. It starts off well enough, almost friendly, as you pick out recognizable audio, some sense for the brain to hold on to, but by the time “Environs II” rolls around, yr in another world, with it’s own physics, as clanging pipes and wrecked piano innards are sprayed around yr ears, as everything you see shivers into mist.
Environs is an unsettling listen, more dark ambient than dark ambient. More irreal than surreal. It doesn’t come right out and tell you what it’s doing, just unfurls in a sonic psychodrama. It’s a sound collage, but it still has tendencies that would appeal to fans of other dark electronic arts. I heard traces of Loscil and Murcof in it’s dark heart, and another reviewer mentioned Aphex Twin and Autechre. The closest cousin i can think of is this year’s The Stranger – Watching Dead Empires In Decay, with its industrial clanking and foggy terrain, like something out of Tarkovsky‘s Stalker.
Like one of the stalkers in that film, or the Navidson family in House of Leaves we cannot help but go into these strange sound realms, once we know they exist. The greatest opportunity is the chance to free music, to get away from this dreaded nostalgia and worship of past forms, and to create something new and different, to finally start pushing music forward again and increase the vernacular.
Laica’s music has been catching on. His Puls tape, on Rano Records, made FACT Magazine’s Top 30 tapes of the year, and there is a remix version of Environs that i plan on featuring at some later point, as i’ve been digging it quite hard. Perhaps other’s feel as i do, and are ready to climb on board, and experience something different, to plunge into otherworldly sounds and experience something wild.
Strongly recommended for fans of sonic psychogeography everywhere.