Logreybeam: It's All Just Another Aspect Of Mannerism

Judging by its releases to date, the Type imprint refuses to be pigeonholed. Whether it be Mokira's deep ambience, Khonnor's glitch-pop, or RJ Valeo's supple tech-house, the label embraces diversity and places quality ahead of abstruse theorizing. The trend continues with Logreybeam's It's All Just Another Aspect Of Mannerism, the debut album from LA-based composer and Cal Arts alumnus Gabriel Morley who issued 2003's superb Where We're From The Birds Sing A Pretty Song with Twells under the name Yasume. In contrast to the prominence given Morley's intricate beat patterns on that album, Mannerism downplays that dimension by integrating the rhythm elements more subtly into the overall sound. That's consistent with Morley's grand design, however, as he regards Yasume as more of an outlet for beat programming and Logreybeam as a vehicle for exploring abstract sound design and musique concrete.

Far from being some slapdash assemblage of accumulating tracks, Mannerism is very deliberate in conception and is intended to be heard as an uninterrupted piece even if a given track can be isolated from another; the work even approximates a classical structure of sorts by including a prelude (“Premonition”) where all of the instruments 'tune' much as orchestra players do prior to a concert's beginning. There's an anticipatory and free form feel to the track, with bright Musicbox tinkles and percussive clatter appearing over a deep, dark drone. Morley creates the piece using guitar, violin, and piano but processing, here and elsewhere, typically removes any identifiable traces of originating instruments, and thereby deepens the music's abstract and alien qualities.

Morley's approach is restrained and nuanced throughout, with only “Muado,” the album's dense centerpiece, exhibiting signs of aggressiveness, its squelchy percussive patterns backed by a simple array of extended tones. “Aspect Of Mannerism” showcases the album's understated quality. Soft crackles, rustles, and snuffles accompany a blurry wavering drone with crystalline glissandi fluttering almost inaudibly around it. With its spindly beat patterns, “Post 'Du Mortem” is the most Yasume-like of the album's nine tracks, while wisps of electronics and soft industrial emissions in “Opiate Of The Masses” and rhythm patterns in “Beetelguise” reveal a strong Alva Noto influence. In the latter, Morley creates a precise and tactile weave of treble skitter, soft star bursts, and bass tones that recalls Carsten Nicolai's music, and introduces some levity by including Danny Elfman's theme. “Untitled” closes the album in a spectral and abstract mode, its myriad noises anchored by gossamer tones that accumulate slowly towards a magisterial hymn-like state.

What to make of the dismissive title which seems to diametrically conflict with the presumed sincerity of the work? Given that mannerism refers to an habitual way of doing something, Morley may intend the title ironically, as It's All Just Another Aspect Of Mannerism is anything but habitual in the way it eschews bombast for nuance. Regardless of the explanation, Morley has created a sophisticated work of electronic soundscaping that manages to be both uncompromisingly abstract yet accessible.

November 2004