Interpreting Suttas EP






Interpreting Suttas EP is the six-track Trojan Horse debut by L$G aka Carlos from somewhere in Michigan who contacted me in order to introduce me to this work which is self-released and available to purchase and stream at Bandcamp. As I keep saying in terms of releases where the artist does completely mask the aesthetic values and factors: a look at the front artwork, and one knows what to expect, or alternatively, expects what to know. Here we have one of these cases where the cover does not tell even half of the truth (despite sporting the title stylized in Cyrillic), and this is potentially risky when an artist markets his music on his own, for the potential listener simply draws the wrong conclusions and moves on. So let me explain: the Interpreting Suttas EP is named after the Buddhist conglomeration called Sutta Pitaka, a collection of teachings (suttas). But one would never know, for the arrangements move into a completely different direction. This is a Space-Age Glitch Ambient EP! Organic warmth and benign teachings are farther away from this EP than on a lot of other Ambient works. L$G’s debut is very dark, with a lot of interstitial fissures that are as important as the dark sounds themselves which, by their very nature, glow only a tad brighter than the backdrop of nothingness itself. The front cover is way too vibrant and erudite for the bubbling darkness and forsakenness that is about to unfold. Melodies are few and far between, but they are accidental and not mandatory. Carlos revealed to me in his email that Brian Eno’s eternal classic Music For Airports (1978) has been an important source of inspiration for this debut, and its purposeful minimalism is indeed mirrored in the EP… although in an anamorphic mirror! So here is a more meticulous look at all six tracks.


Petty Distortion 2011 launches with a softly spiraling helix of desiccated classic piano tones whose diffuse murkiness is enmeshed with the clinically sterile but by no means purified nullspace that encapsulates the jejuneness and adamantly stern fragility. Both the silence and the sounds augment their hollowness in tandem. The piano meanwhile reveals its truthful spirit and textural base akin to a well-crafted sutta, for once its pitch rises higher, it turns out that the staggering depth and crestfallen threnody of its aura is washed away and leads to a particular form of enlightenment: the Michigan-based producer uses an electric piano instead of a truly analog one, and the ensuing effulgence and pristine proportions of these vesicles are all of a sudden antipodes to the nought. However, this discovery does not lead to a cathartic state; an emaciated state of extirpation wafts through the piano arrangement, the tone sequences are only infinitesimally gentle and much more introverted, trying to regain as much independence in their interdependency on the darkness as possible. Nachiketa’s Gift follows next and is based on the eponymous child of the Hindu fable whose name refers to the driving factor of all human knowledge, an interest in the unknown, in fathoming out boundaries and leaving them behind. Notwithstanding this gift, the sound layers are as antediluvian as in the opener, but L$G ventures to the synth pad-heavy 70’s, right into the Age of Aquarius. Oscillating dark matter pads pierce through the darkness, their complexion curiously amicable and good-natured despite their shady physiognomy. Iridescent stardust glitters gyrate around these serpentine coils and provide the peripheral capsule which, as expected, is itself enshrined in darkness. After the comparably electrifying anacrusis, the sounds turn quieter and venture into spacey Dark Ambient territory, with alien-like legato exhalations that seem like frosty gales. The plinking prongs of the dark pads tower above this cosmic concupiscence. No aftereffect is used, everything appears edgy and dazzling.


The following Flickers Of Light is the centerpiece of almost eight minutes and not as enlightening or illuminating as one might think due to its overexposed luminosity which cuts through the heliosphere like a prolonged flash of thunder. This is pretty much noise territory, and this introductory flash glows and drones far too long, almost mimicking an electric drill. Its polyphonic state and careful protrusions show a development, an organic sinews, but this titular flicker is too grandiloquent. In the given overarching topic, however, it might be that the addressed listening subject is simply not yet ready for this kind of blissful explication. What I like much better in the given circumstances are the wondrously crystalline cavity cascades which twirl along in their bit-crushed appearance and are thus truthful Space-Age artifacts. Similar to Tony Scott’s Voyage Into A Black Hole (1988), L$G unites the horrifically alatoric megalomania of the universe with a more humanely structured coherence. And eureka, the second part of Flickers Of Light is the intriguing one with warmly opalescent synth washes and György Ligeti-esque cacophonies. The song thins out marvelously, becoming as wispy as the surrounding atmosphere. Prince Zuko’s Journey follows and draws from Industrial particles which become entangled with the well-known galactosamines of space. A droning stokehold atmosphere, bubbling alkaline liquids, buzzing machines and pentatonic chiptune melodies create a highly interesting cocktail, one in which the parts of its sum finally mesh like clockwork. The atmosphere is denser without neglecting the threatening darkness. Vitreous synth bursts, the first careful insinuations of reverb and elasticized sustain phases make Prince Zuko’s Journey a polymorphous, progressive phantasmagoria whose abyssal bass drones and final claustrophobic dissonances round off the ostracized gestalt. 


Road To Varanasi crossfades into Prince Zuko’s Journey and comprises of more protuberances and undulations than any other song. Space whistles, laser beams, bass eruptions and gorgeously glassy jingle-worthy textures orbit around a brazen bass runlet. The reverb-related afterglow of the 8-bit sounds increases their pompousness and makes them appear stronger and more meaningful than their original source can ever be. Mephitic paroxysms, synthetic specters, bellicose blasts and jagged acid lines clash in a designedly apocryphal airspace; everything gleams, glints, sparkles and scintillates in this hollow space, and the clever balancing of silence and sounds allows for an almost sylphlike ongoing of the multiple textures, timbres and tonalities. A wonderfully miasmatic and labyrinthine corker for fans of the Glitch Ambient movement with a huge dose of exoplanetary Space-Age goodness. The finale is called Goron’s Tune and is a transformation of a lesser known video game character’s lullaby who plays a minor role in a – or rather the – Japanese action adventure game. It is endemically divided into two distinct parts. The first one features softened ocarina (!) tones whose mountainous dew is undoubtedly the warmest and most analogous element in this oftentimes disturbingly abstruse and cryptic EP, whereas the second part unites the cinematic melody with solemn sanguine synth strings whose color spectrum is enormously dusky. A contrapuntal device to the tramontane ocarina, these fogyish retro placentas atrophy the melody rather than ameliorating it, but the rising thermal heat cannot be denied. The song ends suddenly, and the EP comes to an abrupt halt.


You have heard that one before, but here it comes: turn the volume up to the maximum! L$G’s Interpreting Suttas EP is a work that relies as much on the entanglement of sounds and space as it does on various volume levels, the feeling of being entrapped and, maybe as the biggest of all counterparts, the perception of a vast wideness. That these things are altogether created with designedly thinned synths and moss-grown equipment is the actual revelation this EP has in store. The compositions and segues remind of the electro-acoustic sound experiments of the 70’s but do still inherit a relevance for today’s listeners. Glitch and Space-Age fans are the intended targets of Carlos, a surprise in the given prospects as implied by the front artwork. The opener is way too minimal for my taste, and the closer, no matter how human and warm it sounds, is de trop as well, but the four tracks in-between these boundaries are gorgeously cold, glitzy critters with cavalcades of bleeps, vesiculating blebs and turbulent turmoils. Another astonishing tendency is based on the careful use of blurred filters and afterglows which are very rarely applied. As an interim result, everything is plinking and clinging. The cacophony is as important a part as the textures and surfaces with their short eruptions of harmonies. Interpreting Suttas EP is, in the end, a highly esoteric Glitch Ambient work, but for different reasons than its front artwork might suggest. It is cold, harsh, forsaken, but as any skilled listener of spacey Ambient works can tell you, the frequencies and essences that reside in the interstices are possibly the most valuable and worshipped noise flecks in the whole universe. It ought to be a great journey for those listeners, while Drone fans can safely skip this work.



Further listening:
You can purchase and stream L$G’s debut at Bandcamp.



Ambient Review 270: L$G – Interpreting Suttas EP (2013). Originally published on Oct. 9, 2013 at AmbientExotica.com.