"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Old Shoes... New Gaze (pt. I)

Scott Cortez floats free from the de rigueur digital means of production of our age, continuing to navigate by lo-fi colour - guitar-wrought, loop-pedal-refracted, 4-track cassette-captured.

Twin Radiant Flux may be a reheat of unreleased material from 1997-1999, but it feels very much in-the-now, a tribute to the musicianly imagination of The Artist Formerly Known As lovesliescrushing, in drawing from a heritage left by the likes of MBV, Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Lush, Catherine Wheel, [insert shoegaze band of choice] to forge something sui generis. A long format piece split into parts, Flux starts slowly with a lone drone to the fore before the shoes-wooze and gaze-glaze drape themselves velveteen over proceedings, over the remainder of which he arcs and dives with shifts and drifts, shimmers and fades, sparingly smearing gorgeous steelmelt over the canvas.

Those who've lately been seduced by the likes of Simon Scott and Rafael Anton Irisarri seriously need to check in here, since, though the ambit is less tortuous - more serene, yet far from fluffy - Scott Cortez is a founding father of a whole lately emergent guitar-abstracted ambient-drone tradition, and a still vital spirit is evident in Flux, a work of grace and beauty, whose aural perfume lingers kinaesthetically in the room long after. Cover image by the man himself, via Messrs Chartier and Deupree and the fine Line, 12k sub-label, mastered by busy bee Deupree.

Download mp3 : Part V - Scott Cortez - Twin Radiant Flux (my edit) (n.b. available to stream via Line's release page)

90s scene-watchers may recall llc as painfully unfashionable, derided, through cloth-eared and facile received wisdom, as MBV-copycatists. Somehow, though, Cortez managed to take his passion forward as an almost cult operation under the patronage of darkwave neo-gothic label, Projekt. Hindsight has been kind to llc's legacy, though. Any number of tracks going back over the years reveal Cortez’s artful recontextualisation of the tropes of the ambient-dreampo-shoegaze genre; try this from circa 1996's swoon-some Xuvetyn, titled typically word-playfully, "Blooded and Blosom- Blown"(with apols for video-void, enhance the aural!).

In fact, for all the attendant axe worship one might have imagined, Cortez has gone on record as saying he isn't a guitarist; presumably, he intends that he is not a 'guitarist', i.e. neither defined nor driven by his 6-string thing, but rather using it as his tool (a 'simple tone generator', no less... or rather, no more), defined and delimited through the artist's agency, sometimes exponentially, frequently to acousmatic extreme. As if to underline this, a few years back came what might be been as a declaration of independence from hitherto constant pluck-strum chum in Chorus, an album whose sole sound source was voice - his own and that of llc sidekick, Melissa Arpin.

Let’s face it, though, methinks he doth protest too much; 'cos THIS...

(Fig. 1 shows The Axe as Nu-Shamanic Totem)

...just has to be the loveslies weapon of choice. I mean, can you see the same degree of wind-in-the-hair romanticism emanating from wielding, saaay, one of these?:

Hmm... though, could it be fixed with... a psychedelic makeover...?

Or maybe... lose the beard, get a face job and the hair... more coolly coiffed...?

Nnnyes, so... anyway, guess The Look is all a bit er... random, music-weapon notwithstanding:

Back on track... point being: the axe is certainly crucial on the evidence of three other Cortez/llc endeavours released over the last year. First, this fab 2-cd set on Projekt, girl. echo. suns. veils., (note anagrammatic sleight of hand)

The artist (in both senses) is seen in self-shot footage showing him in the process of preparing the parts for the individualised custom-crafted limited edition package (wooden box edition sold out, though available in less crafted cladding).

Around the same time, in some ways a relative of the Flux of our departure point, came a similarly engrossing listen in Crwth (Chorus Redux); an abstracted retool of Chorus, undertaken at the behest of Line man Chartier.

Chartier's seal of approval for Cortez’s project ("...the early 'missing link' between the likes of Slowdive and Fennesz. ...an important, if perhaps overlooked, point in the timeline of contemporary electronic music") was perhaps the backstage pass for Cortez's belated entry into the Inner Sanctum of Experimentalist Rigour (see here for more on Crwth).
Download mp3 : ZRENE - lovesliescrushing - Crwth (Chorus Redux), SHEMERR - lovesliescrushing - Crwth (Chorus Redux)

Read full review of Crwth (Chorus Redux) - LOVESLIESCRUSHING on Boomkat.com ©

And finally (more to say but enough already) there's news elsewhere of a collab with kindred axescapeist and fellow-flouter of word boundaries, thisquietarmy, though just as well Cortez reverts to the name his Mum gave him here, otherwise we might've had to deal with a nomenclatural pile-up:

lovesliescrushingthisquietarmy !!!!

Label three:four records says: "The collaboration between Scott Cortez and thisquietarmy doesn’t really come as a surprise. The latter acknowledges that the previous works from Cortez (under the lovesliescrushing moniker) greatly influenced his work, to the point of using the same way of writing the band’s name (no capital letter and no spaces between words) for his actual solo project. The main thing that they have in common is their unconventional use of the guitar, which they consider as a signal generator. They then process those sounds through various effects, to obtain a different result than that of the original signal until the source becomes almost undetectable. Meridians is also the first vinyl production from thisquietarmy, as it is Scott Cortez’s first under his real name."

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