November 07, 2002

loscil 'submers'

"The ocean is a nation that has no light and nobody there cares about the day or the night." That line was an old rhyme of mine from childhood. Growing up, I had one fear: sharks. A family trip to Sea World left me in constant fear of sharks. The park had an underground area, and the main attraction was a tank with an impressive collection of sharks, whales, killer sharks, manta rays, and other very big sea-dominating beasts, which you could sea quite plainly due to the big glass walls. Of course, being six, I didn't understand the concept of depth perception, and I also didn't undertstand that the glass was several feet thick. In my mind, that great white shark that kept hitting on the glass would very quickly break the glass, filling up the room and those big creatures would eat little me--a fact made even clearer by the man in the cage feeding the sharks with the Joseph-size pigs. While I realize that it was a cool place now, and my shark-fear has subsided somewhat, I can still remember the terror and the fear that filled my heart.

The mere title Submers brings to mind "submerge," but, erm, if you dive a little deeper, you'll also think of "submarines." Indeed, all of the tracks on Submers are named after submarines, and knowing that seals into place the feeling that you are down below the ocean. With the dark, beautiful, drone-like nature of Submers, even without any reference to the ocean, you could easily fool yourself into thinking that you were in an IMAX theater special about sharks, whales, the sea. The ambient nature of Submers is overwhelming, but not overbearing; cold, but not freezing; technical, but not complicated. At times the music is ominous, such as on "Mute 3,"but elsewhere the music is tranquil and calm, such as "Resurgam," and at times in the underwater disco hit "Diable Marin," you can picture the dolphins swimming round you. The final track, the utterly sad "Kursk," is a requiem for the Russian submarine crew that died in the submarine of the same name, and it's a fitting end to Submers, showing that with life, there's death, and with death, life goes on. It's that circle of life thing under the ocean thing, I guess.

loscil is following in the ambient tradition wonderfully created by luminaries as Harold Budd and Roger and Brian Eno. Eno created Music for Films and Music for Airports, but loscil's Scott Morgan beat him to the punch and created Music for Submarines. It was a matter of time, really, that someone would take the torch from Budd and Eno; luckily, Morgan's a worthy heir to the ambient throne. Submers is a nice realization of a young artist's talents; here's to an interesting and vaired career--just avoid the temptation of reading your own poetry or collaborating with John Cale.

--Joseph Kyle

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