Ensemble Economique: Light That Comes, Light That Goes
Denovali Records

Light That Comes, Light That Goes presents forty powerful minutes of dark ambient moodsculpting from Californian alchemist Brian Pyle (Starving Weirdos, RV Paintings) under the Ensemble Economique name. He comes by the moniker honestly, as he composed and performed everything on the recording with the exception of violin playing on one track by Merrick McKinlay. Though it's Pyle's first Ensemble Economique release on Denovali, he's appeared under the alias a number of times before on labels such as Digitalis, Not Not Fun, and Dekorder. Field recordings, samples, found sounds, and musical elements are the ingredients Pyle works with in meticulously assembling setpieces that often push beyond psychedelia into an oxymoronic realm of controlled derangement.

Pyle wastes no time establishing the album's claustrophobic character, with deathly anvil strikes piercing the disorienting gloom of “If You Need Help” during its opening minutes. Psychosis seems to set in as the piece advances, with mangled voices and coal-black haze flooding every corner of its diseased, ghoul-infested space. With respect to the album title, little if any light penetrates this nightmarish zone, making the twelve-minute piece one of the most viral dark ambient tracks heard in these parts for a long time. A repeating, prog-like keyboard figure bleeds through “Ksenia” as a foundation for the murmur of a woman's French-speaking voice and the convulsions of multiple accompanying sound textures. Pyle's samples are typically obscure enough to resist identification, though the familiar guitar riff from Spandau Ballet's “True” does seem to emerge as a motif within “As the Train Leaves Tonight.” At times, as in the case of “Glass on the Horizon,” Pyle's dense concoction swells into a sickly howl, its multiple elements drunkenly swaying within the opaque mix.

That the album was to some degree inspired by Pyle's long walks by the ocean is borne out by the field recordings of crashing waves that surface alongside sounds of organ chords, distorted guitar drones, and speaking voices. Largely eschewing beats (the closing “Radiate Through ME” the exception), the album advances through its six pieces without interruption, a design that intensifies the dreamlike character imparted by the material itself. One could sum up Light That Comes, Light That Goes with the observation that it plays like the uncensored murk of the unconscious somehow externalized into physical form.

January 2014