Lichens - Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Mon 25 Oct, 2010 (4 stars)

Lichens - Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Mon 25 Oct, 2010

All-encompassing hypnotic wash is utterly beguiling

Topping a meticulously chosen bill, the Chicago-based bassist with 90 Day Men and Kranky Records artist, Robert AA Lowe, aka Lichens, can captivate just by putting up his homespun stage set. It’s a similarly precise precursor to the ever-pulsating electronic manipulations that follow. Following the low-key vocal glitches of Iliop, the looped folk rounds of Wounded Knee and the epic soundtracks of The Douglas Firs, Lowe lays down a neatly ordered array of patterned rugs on which is placed a table covered with a cloth that suggests the local medium is about to take tea with assorted unseen spirits from the ether.

On a screen behind, projections of animated coloured balls flower into cartoon cloud-like splodges that blossom into infinity as Lowe gradually builds sound frequencies from a low hum to a densely layered and all-encompassing hypnotic wash. Wordless high-pitched vocals keen a looped spectral chorale that adds more textures to an already intense sensory overload that sounds as primitive, ancient and utterly beguiling as some psychoactive sci-fi flick come home to roost.

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