Loscil - The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, Wed 19 Feb 2014
Ambient soundscapes from Canada’s Scott Morgan
Though barely 18 months old, The Glad Cafe has earned itself a deserving place in the hearts of many, and not just those lucky enough to have the discreetly hidden Southside delight on their doorstep it seems. This is the second visit in less than a year from Loscil, the ambient electronic project of Vancouver’s Scott Morgan, who has released music on experimental electronic labels Ghostly and Kranky in the past. Barely lit by the cool blue glow of a MacBook, and backed by grainy, flickering film footage, Morgan appears every bit the archetypal, unassuming electronic musician, hunched gravely over a table-top of mysterious, wire-spilling equipment.
Loscil’s music too may not be especially unique, but such criticisms are largely forgotten here in the closeted darkness of The Glad Cafe’s backroom gig space, as Morgan deftly orchestrates layers of sound to gently conjure shimmering, dream-tinged worlds for the small but devoted crowd seated around a cluster of candlelit tables. Joined onstage by long-term compatriot Jason Zumpano on keyboard, the two improvise around Morgan’s compositions, beginning with a high, tactile drone, and bringing in deeper background hums and slow throbs of bass, then Zumpano’s barely-melodic, sparse keyboard notes and rich swells of string-like sound from Morgan’s processed lap steel strums. The music both echoes and is echoed by the rolling, silently crashing waves projected behind the pair, a theme that continues as the oceans give way to slow, aerial pans over snow-capped peaks and finally, to towering, disintegrating ice floes, all the while symbiotically illustrating Loscil’s richly textured sounds.
Such expertly crafted music is ambient, not in the sense of being a background soundtrack, but rather in the way that it creates sonic spaces for the listener to inhabit, and here in the dimness of the venue, the edge-of-consciousness escape of Loscil’s creations is such that the end of the set after three pieces feels premature, regardless of their length, and the sudden collective wrench back to reality is unwelcome anything like so soon, leaving us hoping that Loscil’s next return to Glasgow and The Glad Cafe will come around again sometime soon.