Loscil's ambient compositions exist between worlds. Both electronic and naturalistic, drone-based and melodic, rhythmic and adrift, the Vancouver producer's three-track Strathcona Variations is both placid and filled with dread, a suite of gentle, barely-there compositions whose odd, surreal beauty can't be underestimated.
Initially, each track on Strathcona Variations appears smooth, a flawless surface whose variations are imperceptibly gradual at best. Closer inspection, though, reveals a world of subtle mood-shifts, distant blips and clicks, and orchestral flourishes disguised as synthesizer tones (and vice versa). Opener "Strathcona" is a fine slice of minimalism, spreading two alternating, undulating organ chords out over eight minutes, adding a miniscule electronic click and a series of room-temp synth passages whose cloud-like interactions become the track's focus. "Union Dusk" overlays a series of gently stuttering samples and drones, building to a vibraphone-led climax that evokes a tiny, electronic Steve Reich. Closer "Midnight on Princess" has a cinematic lift to its otherwise dirge-like swells of strings and drone. At only three tracks, Loscil's Strathcona Variations is decidedly brief, but its sense of space and emotion is bottomless.