A Dusted Review: d/evolution by LCC (May 8th, 2014)

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Spanish duo LCC — formerly LasCasiCasiotone — blur the lines between styles, sounds and emotion until the music on d/evolution becomes a haze out of which emerge sounds, hints of genre and textures in a grim, airtight approximation of electronica. For some reason, the title of a This Heat song, “Music Like Escaping Gas,” springs to mind. LCC’s music seems to be built around field recordings: gusts of wind, wheezing air vents, clanking machinery and crumbling surfaces (both natural and artificial), but these are so processed and re-configured that their exact nature is uncertain, imbuing the album with an abstract, intangible atmosphere. What remains is music, escaping wispily out of the speakers.The d/evolution reflects on the uneasy relationship between humankind and the natural world it has evolved out of. In this context, the uneasy sounds of technology that bubble out of an ambient haze and phantomatic wordless vocals on opener “Chróma” instantly create tension that intensifies as the track progresses, the dense background drones growing in intensity whilst the machine continues to crank repetitively and unsuccessfully against the impassive surface it’s abusing. This tension, however, is mostly muffled and diluted across d/evolution, as if perceived through dense fog, an approach that seems at odds somewhat with the overtly political and ecological message LCC appear to be straining towards. Even when things reach breaking point, the end result is generally a quiet recede into the increasingly opaque tapestry the duo creates.

Viewed differently, d’evolution represents a challenge, with Ana Quiroga and Uge Pañeda throwing the gauntlet down to the listener. Just as the found sounds they employ are hard to identify, so is the underlying statement blurred and left out of reach, as if the album’s creators are demanding we come to the same conclusions as them without their aid. For some, this refusal to make an overt declaration on such serious issues as climate change or ecological damage might represent a cop out, but alternatively, d/evolution can be seen as a personal and intimate rumination, one that would be poorly served by aggressive slogans or pap sound bytes. Or maybe LCC’s core sentiment is immaterial. Its pervasive mood of disquiet and coldness means that it’s clear something dark is at play, and whatever that may be is up to each individual listener. You decide, essentially.

With so much ambiguity and mystery at play, defining d/evolution in the context of modern electronic music is an exercise in futility. At times, its grim ambient synth drones and buzzing bass drones sound like an extension of Eno’s Ambient 4: On Land, at others, when Quiroga and Pañeda deploy spindly beats, they edge into the ambient dub landscape of Drexciya and Porter Ricks.  They even venture into dubstep territory, most successfully on the Raime-like “Calx” and the insistent, quasi-industrial, head-bobbing buzz-and-drone slice of excellence that is “Titan”, where, for a brief moment, the murk of previous tracks (and the opening bars of “Titan” itself) are swept aside in favour of a brutal slab of hypnotic, widescreen alt-dance.

Ultimately, messages mean little in the context of modern electronic music. Just as Demdike Stare’s glances back into myth and history only form a sketched climate for their take on hauntology and dub, so d/evolution is best savoured less as a statement than as a remarkable work of forward-looking electronica, one that moves beyond most barriers we scribes try to erect.

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