This is the sound of the deep void. Beyond the perimeter. There is no up or down here, no end or no beginning. Edgeless, weightless, almost without form. Forget the craters and horizontal glass storms of Pluto – that’s beginners stuff, laddie. These are the frequencies of the Hubble Deep Field. The Eridanus Supervoid. The far places. The cold spots.
Ekca Liena is the solo project of Daniel Mackenzie, who sharp-eared readers will recognise as one half of Aylesbury’s finest ritual noise duo Plurals, whose True Life Document (Brighton 2014) cassette marked the inaugural release for the new Structured Disasters label. Mackenzie’s work as Ekca Liena points towards the darker end of the ambient spectrum, fused with a hearty dollop of drones and noise, and Lacia Is Joined is a stand-up example of his approach.
Released on the mighty Was Is Das label, Lacia Is Joined presents a suite of elongated, abstracted soundscapes, with mournful synth lines casting slow trails against a backdrop of looming bass hums and mid-register fields of distortion. It’s not totally static – there are slow-motion surges and inexorable crescendos, as on the beautiful seismic drift of Acrid Mornings (Again) – yet the emotional hit of these tidal washes are more complex than on other releases of this ilk. Too often, artists fall back on clichéd evocations of nostalgia, with cheesy retro synths and an excess of saturation, as if they’d switched the Boards of Canada filter on their PowerBooks up to 11 and wondered off to grab a quick single-estate macchiato from their local artisanal coffee house.
Tracks like Leaves Cling to Rain occasionally steer their sonic kayaks a little into Tomorrow’s Harvest territory but Mackenzie definitely has an individual take on that aesthetic. The first few minutes see a simple, circling set of piano and synth chords marking out the territory, before a stony, clacking rythmn track drifts in, more like some Neolithic drum circle than anything set up by 21st century hands. The track slowly builds, with more wibbly synth and metallic percussion, before a distorted wall of fuzz smashes into it amidships, drenching everything in its bassy grit and hurling us up into a righteous, euphoric release.
But in general, Lacia Is Joined refuses easy emotional hits, preferring instead to snip out almost all human elements from its compositions. But it also avoids the hyper complex metallic machine music of Autechre et al – so, instead of screeds of data unspooling into some imaginary next-generation semantic sonic web, on tracks like N Netherworld or Wind Fucker Mcakenzie constructs a series of almost endless, gleaming planes, starless and bible black, depthless and enigmatic.
Not so much post-human, then, as post-humanity. The lovesongs of the stars, singing to each other across the vast drifts of dark matter, past the limits of the observable universe.