Monument Builders is the new album from loscil, the ambient/electronic project of prolific composer Scott Morgan. It was primarily created on sample-based instruments in Morgan’s century old Vancouver home. Like that aged space, this music is also rough-hewn, with rickety samples of boiling kettles and resonant moving air. Recordings from a vintage micro-cassette recorder contribute distortion, rattles and textures that serve as both percussion and abstract aural color.
According to Morgan, the genesis for the album may have begun as he viewed an old VHS copy of the American experimental film Koyaanisqatsi. “Something about the time-tarnished visuals and the pitch warble on Philip Glass’s epic score added a new layer of intrigue for me,” says Morgan. “Glass has always been an influence but lo-fi Glass felt like a minor revelation, as if the decay was actually enhancing the impact of the film’s message.” The investigations on Monument Builders also took inspiration from the anti-humanist writings of influential philosopher John Gray, as well as photographer Edward Burtynsky’s iconic aerial photographs of pollution and environmental destruction. “Gray’s writing, particularly his book Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, reinforced a bleak notion I had that we humans don’t have much say in how it all turns out,” says Morgan. “With Burtynsky, I was struck by the fact that something so strikingly beautiful could be the result of large-scale waste and exploitation.” Monument Builders was composed during a period in which the life-and-death battles of close friends and family forced Morgan to examine his own feelings on mortality. In the course of that introspection, Morgan found himself buoyed by a feeling of celebration and a stubborn sense of survival—an acknowledgement of what it means to be able to breathe and create amidst the clash of love and chaos. Ultimately, Morgan hopes the music here can offer listeners solace while leaving room for exploration and surprise.