Tape Loop Orchestra: In A Lonely Place

Despite some superficial sonic similarities, the music Andrew Hargreaves produces under his Tape Loop Orchestra moniker is dramatically unlike the experimental songcraft he creates with Craig Tattersall in The Boats. Tattersall isn't entirely absent from the project, incidentally, as he's credited with the release's elaborate design, with Facture making In A Lonely Place available in both vinyl and CD formats and accompanied by a collage poster and a 12 x12 hand-numbered print.

Inspiration for the release came from three lines of dialogue (used for the track titles) from the 1950 film In A Lonely Place, directed by Nicolas Ray and featuring Humphrey Bogart and Ray's then-wife Gloria Grahame. Interestingly, though the noir genre is characterized by murky moral depths that find their suitable equivalent in Hargreaves' renderings, the genre is characterized just as much by a heavy use of chiaroscuro in its lighting design, and it's on this point that Hargreaves' recording parts company with the genre when it's tonally so much more characterized by cloudy greys than stark, black-and-white contrasts.

The release is constituted by three long tracks, two of them in the eleven-minute range and the third twenty-two. As such the material, which Hargreaves recorded and edited over a three-month period on a modified 4-track and walkman loop, splits itself perfectly across the two vinyl sides. Plaintive in tone, “I Was Born When She Kissed Me,” like the album's material in general, undergoes a metamorphosis that happens so gradually it's nearly imperceptible. That approach is reflected in comments Hargreaves made during a recent Fluid Radio interview in which he discussed the theme of decay that's central to the Tape Loop Orchestra concept and described each track as having an initial focus that slowly breaks down until its phrases become fragile, ghost-like vestiges of their former selves.

In both “I Died When She Left Me” and the longest setting “I Lived A Few Weeks While She Loved Me,” orchestral phrases intone as if they're resounding within an ultra-thick blanket of fog and grime and grow ever-blurrier and indistinct as the minutes pass. It would be tempting to draw comparisons between Tape Loop Orchestra and Gas, given that both rely so heavily upon textural density and the entrancement that the loop-based repetition of their themes induces, but the comparison shouldn't be taken too far, given that Hargreaves goes much further with respect to the material's overall density. In his case, the tracks' themes aren't so much shrouded in mist as eventually totally consumed by it.

February 2013