S/T by Material LossRelease date: August 27, 2020
As a huge fan of Cattle and Soft Issues, it should come as no surprise to you that I’m also a huge fan of Chris’ new project Material Loss. It’s nowhere near as intense or savage as the aforementioned projects, but it is swamped in the same malevolence. If you’re a fan of any of the above or you’re into ambient, drone, noise, musique concrete or any other related genres, get your ears around this self-titled debut EP from Material Loss!
‘Set’ opens the album with Carpenter-esque foreboding; deep pulsations of low-frequency, brass-twinged synth. Within two minutes, the listener knows what Material Loss is all about. It’s minimal, brooding and really fucking oppressed. Where melody or percussion or any kind of top line lead part would usually exist, here they’re discarded in favour of ambient noise samples that feel almost like some kind of beacon searching in the abyss; but from my previous experience with this artist’s projects there is no hope or salvation to be found buried under the tides of desolation that he carves into his music. This is going to be slow and bleak and arduous.
The sophomore entry into this release, ’UA’ could very easily be a nicely polished recording of an empty train station for all I know. It’s a well-crafted noise, but really seems to function as a kind sound passage to carry from the first track through to the third. ‘SD-CLA’ is really interesting, I’m really curious as to what extent samples are being used. It sounds like the clanging of knives, but could easily be some glitchy drums with the right balance of tone. This is gonna take a few listens to fully wrap my head around.
The final track ‘Alm’ will be a reward for the melody-orientated listeners out there. There’s some really nice pulses in this track. Gently bouncing keys dancing around the EP’s ubiquitous crackle. It’s a key facet of this release that everything sounds good. With an album as austere as this, if anything doesn’t sound perfect, then it comes across as unfinished and it also stands out like a sore thumb. There’s a lot of ambient, drone, soundscape and noise records out there and basically, there’s two things that I think are important in making stuff that is better than most of the shit out there: good sound quality and cathartic atmosphere.
Having been a massive fan of all of Chris’ projects, I can tell you that whatever he’s selling I’m buying. He’s got some demons and I can hear them in his music and I highly relate to all of it. You have to pour your emotions into your artistry. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just has to be legit. Make music that reflects how you truly feel, no genre is better or worse than any other, don’t try and force yourself into a box you don’t fit in. As my good friend Elvis Leon always says “be you”. Some people naturally manifest the depths other people are better off making indie or post-punk or dance music, just make sure you’re being honest with yourself about who you are and what you can do. Don’t put something out unless you’re proud of both the content and the production, if you can’t do the latter save up and pay someone who can by doing some research on Discogs and finding good engineers. It’s expensive, takes me a very long time to save to even get mastering done, but this is the key in this genre. Good sound quality, good catharsis.
Material Loss is a solid album for dark ambient, noise and drone fans and is also highly recommended for any existing Soft Issues or Cattle fans. Take the plunge.