The first Lucky Pierre album, Hypnogogia, was released in 2002 to some fairly widespread critical acclaim. You may, however, know Lucky Pierre – or L Pierre – better as Aidan Moffat, one half of Arab Strap. Hypnogogia’s instrumental, sample-rich, orchestral-looping sounds came from five years of spare time work by Moffat, and quickly became Melodic’s best selling record. Can its successor match such an achievement?
The first thing you’ll notice about Touchpool is that it harnesses together the two faculties of beauty and melancholia – too often kept apart in modern music – and simply flows out the speakers. Album-opener Crush’s minimalist beats and weeping strings could easily soundtrack the most heartbreaking of scenes and leave you feeling all the more human for it.
Rotspots From The Crap Map (title taken from a Scottish tabloid paper, apparently) cooks up the same ingredients with a slightly more sinister edge, feeling altogether more ambient and brooding. Jim Dodge’s seabreeze tropicalia picks up the pulse thereafter and boasts some remarkably grin-inducing tones, thanks largely to the presence of the wonderful pedal steel (woefully underused these days, don’t you think?).
While Baby Breeze never quite emerges from its sting-based roots, it is followed by Fan-Dance – a provocative lounge track that grows from drum machine and piano to a subtle, cinematic climax. There may be no foot-to-the-floor or grit-your-teeth moments, and the whole affair ambles where others run, but that’s the whole point.
It’s evident from Touchpool’s coherence that Moffat formed and recorded it in one go, working diligently to smooth the seams between sample and live instruments. In terms of reference points, there is certainly some Cocteau Twins in the mix, though its ambient moments are not ambient enough to warrant a Sigur Ros or M�m comparison. Indeed, it is quite overwhelmingly orchestral at times, rendering it a mouth-wateringly rich prospect when you first hit that ‘play’ button.
Okay, so the song titles are occassionally ridiculous, and the sleeve’s cupped-breast artwork seems to be strangeness for strangeness’ sake, but Moffat’s tour de force quietly exhibits qualities that are absent from most other walks of music, being cinematic, subtle, dusty, sad and, more than anything else, beautiful. Moffat lets the music do the talking, and says far more than we ever expected. Vintage stuff.