I have recently had a re-occurring experience with music that has prompted the following question. “Can music, as an abstract entity be a signifier for an environment, space or location?” I am presently of the opinion that it is only by means of direct association with the circumstances of creation, that these relations occur and at no point, when approached as an autonomous entity, could music reflect an environment. Subjective circumstances are the only precursor that could allow and non-lyrical form of music to symbolise an environment, and for most individuals these are always different. So, where you hear the sound of the ocean perhaps, I hear the sound of a mountain range. Both of which could be right and wrong at same time, but should really be irrelevant. The PR machines seem to disagree with me. I’ve received countless promos in the very recent past in which the press release associates physical environments with recorded music and the latest accompanies Loops Haunt’s Exits.
They suggest that the album evokes the “windswept sounds of the desolate North”. Having never been to the North (I assume they mean the UK), I can’t confirm nor deny this fact, but I can safely assume, this association was probably instigated by Scott Gordan’s biography and specifically his origins. For me there is a frame of mind rather than a specific time and space evoked during Exits, but even that should be ignored in favour of a reduced listening experience, in my opinion. Gordon’s isolation during his creative processes is hard to ignore and could inform the music if pondered upon, but we should approach Exits in a similar way the producer approached the creation of it. Removing any and all subjective associations that precede the music up to the point of your own cognitive processes.
Loops Haunt combines a cinematically textured sound design approach that flows in and out of a variety of percussive loops and samples whose culmination range from the atmospheric layers of Trap Door, to the beat-driven acid-infused approach of IVA. The clouded ambient textures that accompany the whole album, takes a bit of a back seat on the latter, and showcases the producer’s technical talents in combining found sounds with synthesis. Like Gordon’s last album, Zenith there is still focus on a fundamental rhythm section for most of Exits. It’s emphasised particularly through the middle of the album as things pick up tempo and the ferocity of Howl offers up the peak of this climax. The live/sampled drums stomp out a rhythm on the toms, punctuated by a dirty synth playing a busy riff. I haven’t heard that many notes in a single motif for some time. On this track, the textures and bright resonances that have been in the foreground as of yet, only blanket the busy mid-range but never disappear. It is a very unique track like so many on this album. Just when you think you are listening to an ambient record a beat concurrent with hip-hop or techno throws you off, while a harmonic- or melodic movement becomes to obvious to merely marginalise it as part of the bigger whole.
As I make my way further along the album, through Tunnelling and IVA, I regret having to listen to the album as separate tracks, since the continuity of tracks become apparent and a progression unfolds that takes the listener through a journey from start to finish. Apparently this album was all conceived from one riff and Gordon purposefully constructed this continuity between certain songs. I can imagine how much better Exits will be, uninterrupted in its vinyl format. And just like it arrived, Exits departs through its meticulous abandonment of a structured rhythmic section and floats through the remains of Hex, Fissure and Tymadlyb. There is no significant track as they all intertwine as one.
After a few listens, I am even less convinced as to its associations with regards to space and environments. This album definitely deserves to be considered as an entity onto itself and anything less will probably only ruin the listening experience for you. In a recent interview, Gordon suggested that this album is not accessible. I will have to disagree and conclude that it is indeed easy to approach this album through its hauntingly pretty melodic movements and unobtrusive textures. I can however agree with another statement from that same interview, and that is that Exits should be listened to more than once. But don’t just take my word for it. You can stream the whole thing over at Pitchfork Advance.