Finally returning from an unbearably long six-year hiatus, Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin-Henry of Lovesliescrushing release their third album of complex and lush gossamer guitar-based ambience. The band departed from the Projekt label to join up with the Conneticut-based Sonic Syrup (on which Cortez has released material under his Astrobrite moniker). The label changeover becomes most obvious with 'Glissceule''s lack of the striking artwork which graced the covers of the band's first two records, 'Bloweyelashwish' and 'Xuvetyn'. Musically much in the same vein as some of Darla's Bliss-Out series releases, the 17 tracks (spanning just over 77 minutes) have an airy, meditative quality and not as much dirge as the album's predecessors. As a result, 'Glissceule', though no less enchanting, is somewhat less dynamic (although it manages to avoid lapsing into homogeneity). In any case, Cortez's emotive, delicate, blanketed layers of guitar and Arpin-Henry's soft, unintelligible siren vocals, electronically manipulated to the point of absolute unearthlieness, are still present. This is the first Lovesliescrushing release to utilize digital processing (although the album was recorded using analogue means). The effect this has on 'Glissceule' seems to be that of an overall smoothness in production that is not as evident in the band's previous work. I am at a loss to explain why I so often see Lovesliescrushing get lumped along with other "shoegaze" bands, as they have always made me think of what Main might sound like if they had a vocalist and put out a record on 4AD in 1985. As for 'Glissceule', it is not likely to disappoint the band's longtime fans, and will surely make some new ones.
From the moment that you insert Glissceule into your player, you enter another world. It can be likened to Alice's dive into the rabbit hole, in that Loveliescrushing's world cannot be easily described and is bound to be different for each person who enters. Just as Alice's adventure sounds irrational when described, it'd probably make little sense to you that a couple of tracks into Glissceule, I felt as if I was floating down a river on a raft of ice, passing through a huge ice cave illuminated by beacons of light -- but that's how I described it to myself at the time.
That said, I suppose I need to come up with better (or at least more concrete) descriptions than ice caves and beacons of light. Well, I'm gonna hate myself for doing it, but Loveliescrushing can most readily be put on the ambient, electro-acoustic shelf. Distant, distorted sounds fill your head, while samples of Melissa Arpin's beautiful voice enter and exit the mix sometimes at predictable times, and sometimes at random intervals. This gives the electronic backdrop an inner soul; as with the vocals on a singer-songwriter album, you'll focus on her voice, following it up and down. There aren't any lyrics, though -- it's just a conglomeration of blurred-out syllables and pitches. Orpin's voice is sometimes a little hard to follow; she harmonizes so well with the rest of the mix that her voice sometimes fuses with the electronic pitches. It's all done really well -- the production takes full advantage of stereophonic effects, combining multiple samples for a layered effect. This gives the music a fragile quality, leaving your senses entirely in Loveliescrushing's hands; they could, at any time, pound out a power chord and scare the shit out of you.
Adding to the music's fragility is a subtle battle between the more definable samples and the vague, sounds that create the music's backdrop. The background sounds inevitably win, but it's entertaining to hear the other samples struggle against the backing tide for a few minutes, until they're washed away.
Speaking of minutes, Glissceule truly exists outside of time. I noticed this when, after listening to the album in the dark (a suitable environment for it), I turned on the light to check the track listing and noticed that the time-display on my Discman was moving oddly fast. The tracks melt together, creating one huge masterpiece; there's no point in referencing individual songs, or even in watching them go by. Any sense of context is, at best, illusory.
Admittedly, you have to really be in the right mood to listen to Glissceule, which limits its replay value; patience is a must. But if you've had no coffee, and have nothing to do for roughly eighty minutes, you can get extremely lost in this music. The possibilities seem endless.