lovesliescrushing: Crwth (Chorus Redux)

A recording by a pioneering shoegaze outfit isn't the first thing that comes to mind when pondering Line's discography. But lovesliescrushing is no ordinary shoegaze band and Crwth (Chorus Redux) is no ordinary shoegaze collection. First of all, though the group, founded in 1991 by Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin-Duimstra, does blend elements of shoegaze, post-rock, ambient soundscaping, and experimental music into a heady, low-tech mix, it does so by limiting the focus to guitar and voice and omitting drums, bass, and keyboards from its songs. In doing so, the group distances itself from shoegaze standbearers such as Ride and Slowdive who built their respective walls of sound using conventional ‘rock' instrumentation and song forms. What distances Crwth (Chorus Redux) even more from other genre albums of its kind is that all twelve of the recording's tracks feature voice only, with Cortez's guitar playing removed in its entirety.

A bit of background is needed first, however. As the title indicates, Crwth (Chorus Redux) was preceded by the lovesliescrushing release Chorus, which also, like its successor, features vocals only. On that 2007 recording, the group manipulates vocal tracks and uses processing to transform them into lush settings of floating character. As the limited edition release was issued only in Peru and therefore difficult to find, Line head Richard Chartier contacted Cortez in order to obtain a copy of the recording, which eventually led to the idea of Lovesliescrushing revisiting the album's tracks for a Line recording, the idea being that Crwth would become an even further abstraction upon the original material. The results are ethereal, naturally, but also strikingly beautiful, to say the least. In some tracks, angelic voices intone softly to produce celestial moods; in other cases, the voices are processed so radically they become little more than minimal tones that throb and drone as relaxedly as a sleeping baby. “RHVR” offers a particular lovely example of the album's style when its voices circle around one another, and when lone voices separate themselves out of the mass and then blend back into it. Murmuring ambient settings like “SHEMERR” and “FLRM,” on the other hand, billow as entrancingly as clouds moving almost imperceptibly across the summer sky. Many of the pieces whisper so peacefully, they're like the deepest sleep state given aural form. Crwth (Chorus Redux) amounts to seventy minutes of minimal vocal-based landscapes where the voices of Arpin-Duimstra and Cortez, altered by fx processing, drift beatifically.

May 2010