Creating music that can both pacify infants and stimulate highly evolved adults is an exceedingly rare talent. Raymond Scott and Brian Eno come to mind as musicians who've achieved this dichotomy, but not many others. But you can add Loscil (Vancouver producer Scott Morgan) to that exclusive list. When he's not drumming in Dan Bejar's baroque-pop group Destroyer or working as sound director for video-game company Radical Entertainment, Morgan clocks quality hours in his home studio as Loscil, one of the world's foremost creators of dub-inflected ambient music.
Loscil has released five albums for the esteemed Kranky label, including the womb-warm new Endless Falls. Beginning with 2001's Triple Point, Loscil's recordings show a remarkable consistency in approach and quality. He displays the minimalist's gift for selecting the most delectable, plangent tones, which he finesses with a jeweler's precision into beautiful, glacially morphing compositions that induce a subtle sense of awe and repose. His resonant chill-out music inspires deep relaxation, but in a corn-free, un–New Agey manner. In a sense, Loscil makes healing music, but devoid of the generic trappings that term implies, similar to labelmate White Rainbow's output, but with more orchestral embellishment. And, though it's unintentional, Loscil's tracks possess a spiritual dimension.
"Yeah," Morgan agrees, "I'm not a spiritual person in a classic sense. I do enjoy the science and headiness of music, and this is ultimately what engages me. But I've always felt there is a lack of truly minimal, entrancing music that isn't about being overtly spiritual. I don't deny that the act of deep listening can be incredibly meditative and relaxing, and I love the idea that my music can be used to help people change states of consciousness. I don't ever want to be in a position of prescribing this, however. I'll leave it up to the listeners to decide how best to interact with my music and what spiritual or intellectual meaning they want to apply to it or extract from it."
One wonders if Morgan ever desires to ditch the style with which he's established his rep and go in a drastically different direction. But maybe drumming in Destroyer satisfies that need.
"I'm lucky that I have other outlets, including the bands I get to play in and the work I do on video games," Morgan says. "Loscil is a project with its own identity, and I like to keep the music very focused and concentrated. I like the idea of letting it grow and change, but really gradually—adding instruments, adding voice, adding raw field recordings. These are all things I consider 'evolutionary' in the Loscil space. I would rather start a new project under a different name than suddenly shock people with a thrash-metal album under the Loscil moniker."
Loscil, the Sight Below, and Gel-Sol perform Fri Feb 26, Seattle Art Museum, 8 pm, $5–$10, 18+.