There is not too much surprising in Loscil’s 10th full-length recording, Sea Island. By now, patient listeners will know what to expect from Vancouver’s own Scott Morgan: warm, soft ambience playfully intertwining different blips and hums and thoughtfully-arranged digital elements. The track titles, like past works (Sketches From New Brighton, First Narrows) tell a relatively stark geographical story, and it’s easy to picture Morgan’s musical ideas coming to fruition while staring out to sea or roaming the beaches of Vancouver.
Those familiar with the work of composer Cliff Martinez will find similarities between Sea Island’s more sombre tracks and Martinez’ work on the Solaris (2002) soundtrack. In “Bleeding Ink”, soft metallic pings echo like dulled glockenspiel melodies over one of the record’s few flourishes: airy, lyricless female vocals float in a haze not unlike the breath of ghosts.
Sea Island does still contain the distant, nearly utopian shimmer of Loscil’s previous works, but in far greater quantity are tones that hint at minor keys and tragedy. The timbres are more rich than on his recent 7”, Sine Studies, but in their diversity there is a noticeable dramatic quality. There is a subtly sinister feeling to Sea Island, and that gentle shift in sound should be enough to keep this release fresh among long-time fans. Not too much has changed, but as that age-old adage points out, that isn’t a bad thing for Morgan’s tried approach to experimental ambience.