Lo Bit Landscapes, 2013
Lossmaker is a project emanating from the laboratory of New York video artist Luke Wyatt. His productions in the visual and music fields are both engaging and wide-ranging; much of his work, produced under the banner Torn Hawk, use the vagaries of the defunct VHS tape format and crude digital manipulation, redolent of the deconstructionist manner of post-punk and no wave. Lossmaker is a significant departure from this, offering a sound more akin to that of Philip Glass or Michael Nyman, with perhaps a dash of John Adams. Where Torn Hawk seems to look backwards to a corrupted urban past of more recent history with a knowing playfulness, Lossmaker’s melancholic wistfulness inhabits, or evokes, a romantic landscape of yearning, grief and timeless, open vistas. This is a world away from the video mulch of his visual work with its creased VHS tape and 8-bit blocking.
ALBUM REVIEW CONTINUES BELOW
“… Orchestral, or organic element[s], offset against sounds of twitching mechanisms and repetition, pervade the whole release, and it is this near and far — this filmic panorama versus close point detail — that is one of the main strengths of this EP.”
The opening track from the Lo Bit Landscapes-released EP, “Melodrama Camp 3”, is a sweetly sad, stark violin and piano piece underscored by what might be quiet glitching fuzz or the sound of an unwinding tape on a tape machine. This orchestral, or organic element, offset against sounds of twitching mechanisms and repetition, pervades the whole release, and it is this near and far — this filmic panorama versus close point detail — that is one of the main strengths of this EP. In “Lossmaker”, Luke Wyatt appears to be reaching for something more than the glib and referential, to a musical form that is transcendent. Whilst the track “Melodrama Camp 3” is beautifully concise in the spaces of its small town domesticity, “Mann Hires Haim for Sad Caper Film” employs changing and evolving musical vistas to great effect. In “Melodrama Camp 1” the musical theme of “Melodrama Camp 3” is reprised atmospherically over the top of stuttering, effects laden glitchery, before it dissolves over the musical horizon. The Glass-like textures of “Earlymorning Robotech” again call to mind landscape, but this time one marked by travel or changing seasons unfolding, seen passively through a window.
The reprises, recurring themes and atmospheres of the music do seem to point to a narrative, though one that is perhaps best left uninterpreted and thus unimpoverished.
During “Safari Embossed”, the final track of the EP, the layers build and the pace picks up, with an urgency to the tempo and the sounds employed. This track feels like a summation of what has gone before as it swirls and advances, building on an opening and middle section that offers and then takes away different textural interpretations of the same melody before the gathering rhythm takes hold. All this is finally compressed into a cacophonous and resonating loop before a triumphal piano sample calls time and the dust is left to settle.
This is a very different proposition to Wyatt’s other work, though not so alien as to render them incompatible. What is clear, however, is that in making this EP, Wyatt set out from a different starting point and with new criteria. In doing this, he has succeeded in adding another strand to what is already a strong body of interesting and accomplished work.