Unknown Rarities

Its only when an artist dies out (figuratively speaking) or disbands that you truly realize their greatness. By no means is the collaboration of Ian Pullman and Clay Emerson completely groundbreaking in any form, but it was exactly what any ambient fan enjoyed. Elegantly pacing and one upping itself, the superior Wind and Water brought spacious, yet extremely rhythmic subtle nuances within its core. While their debut predictably named Loess was essentially a long standing war between the cold dreariness of ambient and its desolate electronic abrasiveness that accompanies it still brought something to the table noticeably healthier than their predecessors. To put it bluntly it had potential. That may seem like a cop out to many, but the self-titled 12-track debut had extremely long replay ability. It felt refreshing, yet it wasn't anything new in many ways.

While their sophomore release Wind and Water still brought the abrasiveness of its electronic happening, yet it was free of all tension that was holding its position in place. While the comparisons of such bands as Boards of Canada aren't necessarily warranted they do bring something to mind - they dabble in melody greatly. The biggest difference being Loess' approach to such is extremely transparent, spacious, paced, and non-sample oriented, much more to the liking of Tim Hecker fans. They don't evoke emotion as Boards of Canada do yet show so much of what is expected with that comparison. An indie-electronic artist of sorts, Loess aren't truly known outside of raving ambient or say even IDM fans. Being totally uncertain of the situation and their collaboration, it is safer to say they're on hiatus then to say they've actually disbanded, besides they're a collaboration after all.

Burrows remains to be the varied summary of their entire collaboration. Spanning nearly a decade (2000-2008), this compilation released in May of this year brings mostly rarities never to grace a proper album by the duo from Philly. You expect a cross between their various album works, one that is cold and harsh and another that adds other textures of rarities like a sparse violin or pure distorted loveliness of the varied accordion and piano intros as shown on Wind and Water's "Sonde". Their progression from their debut to their sophomore album was the most logical step in keeping the music relatively fresh, yet it still felt genuinely Loess-like. Only by adding and incorporating sounds quickly and evolving them seemingly within those tracks were they sufficiently able to do that on Wind and Water. Burrows takes us on a journey of Loess' 8 years of collaborating together.

Roughly sequencing the various strings of their years together Burrows starts out with a simple, pleasing rhythmic beat that pulsates entitled "Lull". Wind and Water may have progressed their sound, but not by much. Their slight sequences that dance around in "Lull" feel as if it was a mixture of both their old sound and 'not quite so new' progression in Wind and Water. Ambient shrieks propel up and down as the same constant rhythmic drum and distorted mixture of waves and unresponsive voice sampling swirl back and forth. Essentially if you dislike the intro track it's safe to say you'll dislike Loess. Their first sound was encompassed by this same structure, only slightly varying it with new and surprising distorted instrumentation along the way. The constant repetition of the seemingly serene beat within "Lull" is all, but almost lost within the pauses that haunt within "Schoen" - practically bringing the same formula yet twisting it with haunting aspects and a pause central introduction.

There isn't much to say about Burrows other then it melds completely seamlessly within Loess' past 2 albums into one. Of course this isn't realized until halfway through "Bud", progressing slowly to its apex, yet feeling completely strained by the background. I know it sounds horrible, but what makes it so glorious is the constant mind-numbing happiness that bursts within your brain, consistently pattering through the beat as you feel it should go only to stick with its same repetitive and gratifying conclusion. The rarities feel as if they were meant for another album and that is just great considering this is only a compilation, a major treat for any fan. What Loess eventually contribute with this is album is bridging their small discography in one album. Burrows feels fresh for all the right reasons. Mixing basic, constructive, and dependable rhythmic beats, while eventually splicing them with shattered tones, distorted noises and instruments, and hardly ever bringing undistinguishable samples. Loess' gift to both the electronic community, more specifically to the ambient and idm groups and their fans is frankly much appreciated.

Grade: B+


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