Limerence is the full-length debut of Galway, Ireland-based Eyesix aka Jason Dowd whose (current?) mission is to transform his unconditional love for the spiraling songs of Boards of Canada into a work of eleven tracks which desultory and mean-spirited listeners could quickly pan as a copycat release. The humble reviewer meanwhile tries to fathom the release in a different and more detailed way. Released in January 2014 on the Norse label Sparkwood Records and available to purchase (name your price) and stream at Bandcamp, Limerence picks up the languorous remainders and enigmatic ends of Eyesix's self-titled debut EP (2013) and sees them unfold in a beat-interspersed copse near a rural place. No surprise, for the front artwork says it all. The album title, however, is an interesting choice: Limerence, to say it colloquially, describes a severe crush on something or somebody. This description is unfair, as it seems too mundane and shrouded in Pop history – or hysteria? –, but even the more scientific descriptions firmly describe the cognitive mayhem that ensues in one’s brain. This delightful problem is often resolvable in many ways, especially so when someone simply loves another person. But what happens if a state, age, various aesthetics or tendencies are loved in this way, i.e. immaterial notions? You see, Eyesix chose a multifaceted title. His sound then channels two characteristic traits, namely an almost ubiquitous square lead flute on the one hand, and a fizzling, ever-perspicuous hi-hat galore on the other. If one thinks about classic BoC material, it becomes apparent that these particularities are an important part of the duo’s success. The artist realized these markers. He is firmly integrated in the Twoism community and message board where the habits of like-minded fans are captured by the album's aura, but can Limerence depict a similarly polymorphous set of superimposed images, memories and figments outside this sanctuary? 


Syzygy opens the verdured vintage vistas of Limerence. A mystical word that is encountered surprisingly often, it describes the alignment of the moon and the sun, but can also refer to a pair of corresponding things, be they complemental or not. Jason Dowd’s opener feels like a designed ditty, it does not want to be interpreted as something bigger. Ten seconds shy of the three-minute mark, it presents the delighting conjunction of aquatic driblets, coruscating clicks, a bubbling thicket of softened beats, processed snare drums from the Space-Age era and gorgeously turquoise synth helixes in the background. This description focuses on the beat and percussion braiding, and sure enough do these ingredients form a parallax physiognomy prostrate by its own puissance, but the sun-soaked melodies are always allowed to shimmer through, making Syzygy a hopelessly besotted bleb of beguilement. Whistling Of The Douglas Firs follows, featuring a title that is both remarkably self-descriptive and poetic at the same time. A collaboration (or another form of syzygy) with Bearhead, the surprisingly upbeat mélange comprises cherubic chimes, cauterized synth afterglows in tandem with their vibrant foils and a sweeping breakbeat. The mood is hard to pinpoint: the chords are veneered with less elation, a fittingly fir-green arcanum alloys the melodious undulation, hatched colors hue the distant voices coming out of the transistor radio. The confrontation of mankind and forlorn woods; it has been done before, but remains an aurally attractive aspect.


All The Clouds then moves ever-closer to the oft-cited Hexagon Sun territory, resembling the overall moods of Eyesix’s debut best. The four-note synth aorta is influenced by an etched etiolation which makes its saturation appear less glaringly chlorotic, more light-blue. Square lead flutes waft through the increasingly bustling scenery filled with fluttering hi-hats, argentine grains and faraway chatters. Emanating a lofty coldness with tastefully off-key undercurrents, All The Clouds feels pristine and pure, unlike Sunsets On Skyscrapers with its (zoe)tropic sultriness as emitted by its wonky eight-note epithelium of sepia sunbeams, rotatory tonewoods and an eclectic beat pattern. This very pattern is upfront as usual, but still somehow embedded in the overall mirage, letting it appear less of a fusillade than an apposite addendum. The spikiness of the hi-hats is prismatic, the ensuing ardor and moisture of the melodies and the desert winds, however, result in misted-up surfaces. A curious inclusion, driven by torrid heat in lieu of dulcet mellifluousness. Another vestibule is opened with Idaho Transfer, a bottle-green passageway to tumular-mucoid evening lights. Here the beats reign, and distinctively so, as the pastoral three-note melody seems more like an adjuvant delusion than an eminent nucleus. To make matters more eldritch, Jason Down admixes eerie pizzicato synth strings to the scenery; together with the cosmic synth pads, uneasiness ensues, a mildly apocalyptic apprehension. Teleidoscope then gets rid of these supernal elements, only leaving the aforementioned pastoral skeleton of Idaho Transfer, moulding it into an ecclesial organ melody which is accompanied by arpeggiated admonitions, arcane bass bursts and rufescent galanty shows. 


The seventh track Geodesic is the aeriform counterpart, sporting the same lofty freshness as All The Clouds, but in a vertiginous altitude supercharged with crystalline prongs, blotchy bubbles and a scything breakbeat. Squarish flutes are as intrinsic as chopped-up voice fragments and a majestic melody that is both open to scrutiny and able to shine through the cyber coppice of aerial tendrils. Maryland then does not waste any time and virtually throws the listening subject into its bodacious landscape. Largely nostalgic and filled with gloom, the synths feel fuzzy and limewashed, the voices more malevolent than male, bit-crushed fog vesicles seep through the lands and extrapolate the pressure and exiguity that is so halfheartedly hidden in the setting. Up next is the title track Limerence, a clear-cut homage to Pete Standing Alone right from the get-go, but only via the intermixed textures. The rhythm is different, delicately downbeat yet bucolic and bustling. Children’s voices, their parents’ counterparts, cymbal columns and the bagpipe-oid lead texture make this a warmhearted affair. To be honest, the track does not live up to its title which implies an exaggerated, furiously fulsome kind of besotted love and devotion, but the soundscape itself is top notch, and once the golden thread in the form of the flute-like coxswain appears, the crispness climbs. The penultimate track Lacuna then contrasts peaceful ocean waves together with a softly sinister yet contemplative ignis fatuus of the iridescent kind with frolicking children. But Lacuna’s biggest achievement is its omission, or more fittingly, its recess: there are no beats. This is an Ambient alloy which works all the better due to its field recordings and surreal panorama. Lacuna is also the late turning point into beatless territories, as the apotheosis Helix Fields is equally freed from percussion. A progressive piece at its heart, it slowly grows and nurtures its orange sinews into magnificent rhizomes awash with light. Solemn and festive, the closer is luminescent and bright but never succumbs to cinematic cornucopias of bliss. A consol(idat)ing endpoint.


Eyesix’s Limerence is caught, harbored, enshrined and encapsulated in the past, and even twicely so, there is no other way to phrase it this stringently: Jason Dowd freely admits of being influenced by Boards of Canada and their scintillating reel synthesis, with his full-length debut being a faithful replica of the Scottish duo’s particularities and catchy peculiarities. It so happens that the very band who worships the vintage haze and colorful sundaes of yore becomes itself part of the next generation of artists who favor the same things. So for once, the following old adage is astute and now inherits a positive connotation: Limerence is a thing of the past. Whether it is the arpeggiated staccato shrapnel of hinted melodies, the brazen-silvery moiré of spiky hi-hats and beats or the echoed synth flumes of the late 60’s and early 70’s, Limerence is, at the end of the day, an utterly honest title, as it describes Jason Dowd’s love for the Sandison Bros., a love he shares with millions of listeners. Sound-wise, Eyesix is always coming down to business immediately. There are no long fade-in phases. After the first cautious circularization, breakbeat patterns and hi-hat-heavy corkscrews materialize. This liveliness is a curious antipode to the petrifying nostalgia, but it works really well, giving the album a frantic edge and keeping the listeners on their toes, allowing them to experience wanderlust the millennial way. As usual, once you encounter such a devoted mimicry of a band’s work, you might as well choose to listen to the original. However, since Eyesix is firmly interwoven in the Boards of Canada community and decides to use his talent for an eminent echopraxia, he knows the soul of the music which translates well to Dowd’s own partially eerie concoctions.



Further listening and reading:

  • You can purchase (name your price) and stream Limerence at Bandcamp
  • Follow Sparkwood Records on Twitter: SparkwoodR.



Ambient Review 310: Eyesix – Limerence (2014). Originally published on Jan. 29, 2014 at AmbientExotica.com.