Three years in the making, Les Scott's second Neu Gestalt album, Weightless Hours, covers an ample amount of ground in its twelve tracks, among them trip-hop, funk, and IDM-electronica. But, above all else, Scott is very much the electro-acoustic sound scientist, with the material speaking strongly in favour of his attention to detail and sensitivity to texture. A case in point is the opening piece, “Toxicology,” which sprinkles its melancholy blend of IDM-electronica and sound-sculpting with field recordings (water dribble), acoustic piano playing, strings, and the exotic wheeze of a shakuhachi. But it's the next piece that is perhaps most revealing: in title and style, “Abandoned Cities” suggests that Neu Gestalt's music could legitimately be seen as perpetuating the fourth world tradition associated with figures such as Jon Hassell and David Toop; it wouldn't be hard to see their respective albums Fourth World Vol. 1 - Possible Musics, Hassell's 1980 collaboration with Eno, and Toop's 1997 release Spirit World as templates for Weightless Hours. It's interesting, too, that one of the album tracks is titled “Sub Rosa,” given that one also could easily imagine the release being issued by Sub Rosa, a label well known for exotic open-mindedness.
The album's material can sometimes seem like ambient music, given the ease with which it merges with the background in its most atmospheric moments. But a closer listen reveals that tracks such as “Saturn Park,” “Winter,” and “On Haunted Shores” include a wealth of detail that rewards one's full attention. The echo of a pinging percussion instrument, the tinkle of piano, the near-subliminal scratch of a turntable, the flutter of processed sound textures, the incorporation of field-recorded train and water sounds—consistent with the very definition of gestalt, all such elements coalesce to form richly evocative moodscapes of intricate design. In addition, Scott often manipulates an instrument's natural timbre until it's rendered unrecognizable; fretless bass, for instance, is present on the album but almost invisibly, appearing as sliding harmonic motifs in “Sheltering Skies” and in fragmented form elsewhere. Scott hasn't entirely shaken off the electronica style of his previous work, as is made clear by the Kraftwerk-styled synths in “Curtain of Rust” (even if the track also ventures into gamelan territory). Such material clearly shows how much Scott has expanded upon Neu Gestalt's stylistic range in the new album.