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Burn Movie Review

Sizzlingly Odd
In his debut feature, writer/director Mike Gan has created a small film that, if there's justice, will attain a cult-like status. "Burn" takes place in the course of one evening and entirely within the confines of a rural, out-of-the-way gas station shop.
It's the kind of place that loners might wander into for a hot cup of coffee at 3am. Obviously this is not a big budget film, but Gan squeezes an awful lot of goodness out of it. Maybe we should call it badness.

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Loscil - Equivalents Music Album Reviews

Inspired by Alfred Stieglitz’ black-and-white photographs of clouds, the Canadian ambient musician reworks piano samples into one of the most monochromatic albums of his career.

Many of the dozen albums that Scott Morgan has produced over the past two decades utilize two volumes: quiet and quieter. Morgan’s music as Loscil is defined by subtlety and understatement: His records tend to recede from the foreground, enmeshing themselves in their surroundings without demanding much attention. He has a rich compositional style that is intricate and deliberate, as well as an ability to conjure immersive atmospheres whose surprising depth is hidden by the music’s supine, almost narcotic, qualities.


Equivalents, Loscil’s first album in three years, is remarkably monochromatic music, full of wispy high pitches that swirl around waves of pink noise and slowly moving tone clusters. Almost all of the sounds were created by heavily processing and layering samples of piano that were originally intended for a Glenn Gould tribute curated by Japanese ambient legend Ryuichi Sakamoto. By focusing so intently on one source, Morgan has made one of the most homogenous albums of his career. It’s easy to regard Equivalents as one long composition that moves through several distinct but related movements. It has a lulling effect that allows space for the mind to wander.

Yet what Morgan can do with that limited palette can be stunning. There are elusive melodic lines spread throughout the album, often so slow that they unfurl over the course of an entire track. “Equivalent 5” creates an effect similar to a Shepard tone, the buried melody, cloaked in hiss, rising but never quite reaching a climax before dissolving into nothingness. Each element seems purposefully placed, and sounds often ping between the left and right channels, such as the delicately pulsating static on the closer “Equivalent 4.” Morgan frequently juxtaposes blocks of sound shrouded in reverb with crisp, light tones that dance around the swirling mass.

Loscil’s albums typically draw inspiration from the environment (rain on Endlessly Falling, pollution and degradation of the natural world on Monument Builders), and Equivalents uses clouds as a conceptual nexus. The album takes its name from a series of the same title created by Alfred Stieglitz in the early 1920s, in which the photographer attempted to locate musical qualities in abstract forms found in nature. Stieglitz captured images of clouds mid-swirl, printing them in stark black and white, connecting their strange contours to his own “emotional and philosophical” states.

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Like clouds, the music on Equivalents is in constant motion but appears to be caught in stasis. Unique and beautiful contours appear and disappear without fanfare, smeared into other sounds or pure silence. What seems simple on the surface is detailed and textured under close attention. Like Stieglitz’s photographs, the music evokes a calm melancholy and surprising emotional resonance.

Because of its indistinct nature, Equivalents feels infinitely deep, with details left undiscovered even after repeat listens. It is easy to get lost in its doldrums, and can sometimes feel inconspicuous to a fault. Brian Eno famously said that ambient music “must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” On Equivalents, Morgan’s careful attention to both those extremes continues to yield fresh ideas.


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