ROBERT LOGAN: Inscape (Slowfoot)


Posted on May 29th 2009 12:50 am

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Robert Logan: Inscape

Slowfoot 2009
12 Tracks. 68mins53secs

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Robert Logan first came to attention a couple of years ago when his debut album, Cognessence, was released on London-based imprint Slowfoot. An often dark, abstract and organic soundtrack, this record showed a surprising level of maturity and control.

While his music appears at first extremely electronic and textured, Logan’s roots are actually more diverse. Indeed, alongside Aphex Twin and Autechre, he also names seventies pioneering bands such as Kraftwerk or Tangerine Dream, and modern classical composers such as Steve Reich or Arvo Pärt, as influences. His taste for ambitious soundscapes, gritty electronics and brooding atmospheres led him to compose the soundtrack for Alex Gibney’s documentary Taxi To The Darkside, a hard-hitting film on the torture practiced by the US in the middle east and in Guantanamo Bay, and provide textures and drum edits for Grace Jones’s most recent album.

With his sophomore effort, Logan returns to the dense textured soundscapes of Cognessence and sets off to push them into much deeper and darker corners. The genesis of the album can be traced to a day when Logan stumbled upon a derelict factory, at nightfall, in the woods near a small village in Hungary. Intrigued and inspired by this deserted site and the contrast between the surrounding nature and the industrial essence of the place, Logan began working on the tracks that would eventually become Inscape. Using layered electronics and treated field recordings, dipped in vast reverbs and coated with all sorts of metallic-sounding effects as a basis for his compositions, he then applies chaotic beat formations and tectonic bass lines to give them a much tighter structure and direction. The album kicks off with electro-acoustic motifs which progressively morph into a somewhat vaporous atmospheric drone as it slips in the background, while a somewhat light beat drives a distant melody in the foreground.

Often, Logan’s rhythmic sections are infused with dubstep aesthetic, but his music has very little to do with the genre. Instead, his soundscapes hint at isolationist forms, especially in the depth of the reverbs used and the resultant distance from clear melodies. But, again, these are criss-crossed with intense discharges of energy, creating impressive convulsions throughout, more akin to techno. Indeed, the nearest point of reference for Inscape is found somewhere between Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2, Speedy J’s Public Energy No. 1 and A Shocking Hobby and Clark’s Body Riddle. The beautiful and lush Stalactite, or pieces such as Ultraflux, Chivalry, Inscape or Jehova Rapha all combine the above elements in various doses and set ups, while Accurate Split Boy, which originally appeared on an EP earlier this year, is fuelled by a series of angular beat patterns and focuses on the resulting concussions suffered by the surrounding sound forms.

Elsewhere, Logan opens up to smoother, more peaceful moments, as in Balaton for instance, which, despite its underlying ominous bass, manages to bring a fleeting ray of light into the record, while on Microcosmos or The Warmth, the latter featuring Francis Logan on violin, the mood is resolutely more ambient and introvert.

With his debut album, Robert Logan had set the bar rather high, but he effortlessly surpasses it with this second effort. The music is incredibly tight and dense throughout, and while he never settles for one particular tone over another, Logan keeps the overall sound extremely consistent all the way through. There is an underlying tension that binds the whole album together and gives it a much more threatening aspect than its predecessor. With Inscape, Logan has delivered one of the strongest records of the year so far.


Icon: arrow Robert Logan (MySpace) | Slowfoot
Icon: arrow Buy: CD | MP3 | iTunes

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