LORN: Ask The Dust (Ninja Tune)


Posted on Jun 19th 2012 01:20 am

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Lorn: Ask The Dust

Ask The Dust
Ninja Tune 2012
12 Tracks. 44mins01secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD  US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Two years on from his second album, Nothing Else, published on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder, Lorn returns with a new slice of razor sharp dark and gritty electronica. The project of Milwaukee-based Marcos Ortega, Lorn first appeared in 2007 with a debut album, Grief Machine, published on French imprint VGR, to this day the label’s sole release, as a limited vinyl edition, but it is really with his Brainfeeder outputs, consisting of two EPs and an album, that Ortega really began to get noticed. Channeling dark strands of dubstep-infused electronica, Nothing Else sounded like a nightmarish ride on a ghost train with no possibility to get off at any point. Ask The Dust, which takes its title from a 1939 novel by John Fante, is cut from a similar wood, but the stage has moved from the fun fair to a much more toxic playground.

The album opens with what sounds like a film being progressively swallowed by a projector, but this is rapidly supplanted by a much more ominous set of dark twisted sounds and corrosive bass propelled by a raw beat, pushed rather sternly into the foreground. Through the whole of Ask The Dust, Ortega experiments with complex textures and haunting soundscapes which are then painstakingly layered into dense formations, but, whilst the sounds themselves appear particularly intense, the resulting constructions, far from sounding lush and abundant, for the most part appear somewhat desolate and minimal. Once stripped of their fuzzy synths, gritty bass lines, occasional feverish chords and crisp drums drum loops, there is very little remaining of these sound formations.

Adding to the disturbing nature of this record, Ortega contribute vocals to a quite a few pieces here. Whist Weigh Me Down sounds unsettling enough as his voice is given a rather ghostly aspect, things become much more troubling on Diamond as Ortega processes his voice into a crass Darth Vader-like abrasive texture which blends in almost perfectly with the harsh electronics in the background. The Gun is equally gothic as Ortega rasps more than sings. The Well or Dead Dog later display rather spookier choral textures as he uses his voice to create a totally different set of textures, whilst on Everything Is Violence, it seems that a human voice has been crushed and processed into a glitchy component of the soundscape itself, yet it is difficult to actually know whether this is not just a fit of the imagination.

A bit like its cover is a disjointed collage of body parts and bone structures, Ask The Dust is a disturbing collection of bare electronic pieces, at times wrapped in dirty outer layers, at other stripped down to their bare essentials and turned inside out to reveal their raw entrails. Here, Marcos Ortega pushes much further into the dark atmospheres he experimented with on his Brainfeeder releases and creates a somewhat unsettling collection for his Ninja Tune debut.


Ninja Tune
Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD  US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

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