Loscil MUTEK, Montreal QC, August 23
Published Aug 24, 2019Equivalents, Loscil's just-issued return to Kranky, is a vaporous affair inspired by early 20th century photographer Alfred Stieglitz's series of cloud photographs under the same name. While Stieglitz's Equivalents were intended to correspond to "philosophical or emotional states of mind," the weighty accumulations on Loscil's record seem more focused on articulating an uncertainty concerning the question of how to feel — perhaps a result of the unstable times we've painted ourselves into with our handling of the environment and social discourse.
Bringing Equivalents to the stage for an exclusive premiere, the Vancouver-based composer drifted into Théâtre Maisonneuve with a curtain of cloud-based images and geometric iconography that matched the album's uncertainties while suggesting context for specific compositional choices.
The screen, split down the middle into duelling images juxtaposing a dark sheet of cloud coverage against fluffy, daydream-y cumulus formations, provided the backdrop for a rendition of "Equivalent 2," highlighting the track's negotiations between gloomy bass notes and shimmering synths, a circular frame occasionally appearing along the centre as if a clouded globe. During "Equivalent 5," bubbles gathered like magnetic marbles, at first slowly, then boiling when the track's windier contributions came in, a tea kettle screaming to communicate a desperate urgency.
Loscil managed his compositions from the back of the stage, and the only light in the room was provided by the projections, giving the performance a sense of the album's emotional distance — but the visuals quietly augmented the album's gently provocative nature.