Thursday, December 8, 2011


Jaw droppingly gorgeous release of pure melodic hyperwash from the neo-shoegaze legends LLC, one of the very few artists to understand and harness the actual emotional resonance inherent in the Kevin Shields/MBV approach to sonic structuring. "Ghost Colored Halo" is a brief 30 minute EP of material showcasing their current approach to blurgaze; here Scott Cortez's tendencies towards swoon-inducing overload (via his excellent Astrobrite project) are condensed into blooming clouds of heady audio goop that confuse the heart as much as they do the mind. This work is more reminiscent of Cortez's recent solo efforts than anything else; there's an austerity here, and something like restraint, that allows these pieces the room to fully expand and cast themselves off heavenward.
To say these tracks are beautiful is a severe understatement; they are possessed of something utterly beyond standards, bordering on the ethereal. If any band exemplifies the hazy and unknowable evocation that is true "power ambience" it's LLC.
"Ghost Colored Halo" moves in a different direction than previous LLC records. There's an emphasis here on clean and pure tone, as opposed to the hyperstatic blur of "Bloweyelashwish" or the bass-heavy thrum of the most recent full-length, "Chorus." Everything sounds simple and reduced rather than Cortez's usual avalanche of frequencies; whereas previous LLC records were syrupy golden mindfucks of the highest stature, "Ghost Colored Halo" finds the duo receding into the comforts of warm and minimally processed tonal purity, coming close to the spectre of Troum or the more classically minded works of Brian Eno. The sound of dreams, or the fade of memory, perhaps.
As hazy as "Ghost Colored Halo" is, though, there are more clearly identifiable song and structure elements than on any other LLC record before it. "Tiger Hunts Alone" has percussive qualities approaching an actual backbeat while the breathtaking "The Wounds That Won't Heal" boasts a near untreated/minimally processed guitar line that serves as the song's anchor (normally Cortez throws everything together and shapes it all via postproduction.) This brazen waltz into the forefront is something entirely new for LLC, and i fucking love it. There's still enough of everything that was so wonderful and transformative to the group present, but now it's meshed to Cortez's more straightforward sensibilities, and the two work in unison to create what is perhaps some of the most emotionally devastating music I've heard this year. "Ghost Halo," the final track here, is nothing but pure heartwrench and yearning intensity, like a desperate grab for the stars before they all flicker out and drop from the sky.
There's no physical release, which is a little sad-it still blows my mind that there aren't more labels willing to back this stuff. Until their next full-length on Handmade Birds, this serves as a reminder of what ambient music can really do. There is really no one out there coming even remotely close to bringing this level of feeling to their music; LLC practically invented this sound, and they still do it better than anyone else. Play it loud, and prepare to watch yourself wash away in a rainbow colored storm. Highest possible recommendation.

No comments: