Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Album review: L Pierre - The Island Come True

Who exactly is Aidan John Moffat?

Well, one look at the late night mutterings of his Twitter feed suggests we’re talking about an alcohol-sodden deviant with a penchant for slinky bubblegum pop princesses. A subsequent rumble through his recordings with Arab Strap wouldn’t entirely contradict this suspicion (see the deliciously depraved 'Stink' for proof). But don’t be fooled - the 39-year-old Scot has much more to offer than coital claptrap on digital platforms.

See, behind the misanthropic dirtbag front lies an artist of genuine class. He may ham up the Bukowski-for-a-modern-age swagger but there’s real substance to his output, as proven by 2011’s much lauded collaboration with Bill Wells on Everything’s Getting Older. His work under the guise of L Pierre is another touchstone for artistic merit. The comedown haze of 2002’s Hypnogogia and Touchpool’s louche jazz bar leanings suggest Moffat’s musical thirst is as insatiable as his libido.

Returning to the L Pierre moniker, Moffat has crafted new LP The Island Come True through a platter of scratching environmental recordings and samples pulled from age-old tape reels. In essence, it’s a step in to simplicity for someone who was never been overly complicated. And, somehow, amidst this jumble of hissing, spitting, creaking arrangements, Moffat has composed one of his finest and most abstract records to date.

It’s hard not to think of these 11 cuts as anything but a journey; one that starts at the feedback crackle of ‘KAB 1340’ and ends on ‘The Kingdom’s ethereal day-breaking drone. Between these two points, Moffat saunters through an ever-moving landscape of sounds and themes that segue effortlessly into one engrossing whole. Yet, individually, each track packs enough punch to stand up on its own right.

Emotionally, it’s as striking as Moffat’s ever been. And given his lack of lyrical input here, that’s an impressive feat. ‘Drums’s battering-ram percussion seethes with an anger that surpasses his most spiteful Strap moments. Its follow-up, ‘Sad Laugh’, is a doomy slow-dance of tender strings and indecipherable chants, while the piano-waltzing ‘Exits’ teases out a dreamy, romantic side that bears little of Moffat’s debauched tendencies. Even ‘Dumbum’s ever-looping skit suggests there’s a coy inner child in there begging to make an appearance.

Such latent multi-sourcing is, of course, open to interpretation – and its creator isn’t beyond firing out a mischievous curveball or two. But with such an imaginative cauldron of ideas, it would be foolish to pass this off as another exercise in Moffat-coined story weaving. Instead, The Island Come True might be as close as we’ll get to understanding the inner-workings of this perplexing and unique artist. Then again it might not. With Aidan John Moffat you just never know.

First published here for Drowned in Sound

No comments: