Aidan Moffat is possibly the most consistently rewarding musician on Twitter. His late night, alcohol-fuelled rants in which he extols the virtues of everything from Stooshe’s Black Heart through to The Jesus Lizard is what Twitter was invented for. He’s passionate, sharp and, crucially, doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Moffat’s social media presence stands in stark contrast to the music he makes under the moniker L Pierre (formerly Lucky Pierre). It’s studiously arranged and, stripped of the darkly funny lyrics of Moffat’s former band Arab Strap, often quite bleak.
The Island Come True (the first L Pierre release since 2007’s Dip) is – discounting the occasional fragments of speech – an entirely instrumental work, pieced together from classical strings, sampled drums and field recordings. Nearly everything one hears on the record comes encased in a thick layer of click tracks and surface noise, occasionally added by Moffat himself: “There’s something beautiful in hearing the grit and hiss of old recordings,” he says.
If one were insane enough to play The Island Come True as mood music in a public place, it would sound like little more than repetitive instrumental music: a series of backgrounds without foregrounds. However, a careful listen reveals the album to be brimming with detail.
There’s nothing complex about the loops that carry The Island Come True’s melodies, yet the intricate details that surround these loops ensure that any repetition is illusory. On opener Kab 1340, a string loop that sounds like it’s been carried on the wind from a distant concert hall is embellished with the sounds of seagulls and the clanking of a shipyard. Harmonic Avenger, meanwhile, is carried along by a six note piano melody, around which circulate ghostly vocals, harmonica and smudges of guitar.
Elsewhere, Moffat takes ordinarily innocuous sounds and lends them a sinister edge through recontextualisation. On Dumbum, the sound of a woman singing absentmindedly to herself is repeated over and over again and – as is Moffat’s wont – cloaked in surface noise. It ends up sounding like a field recording from a mental institution. On Now Listen!, the noise of what appears to be an American TV presenter from the 1950s addressing an adolescent audience is, again, repeated to disquieting effect.
On moments like these, The Island Come True recalls the work of Boards Of Canada, specifically their knack of appropriating the sounds of public information films to produce sinister, otherworldly music. Unlike the music of Boards Of Canada, though, there aren’t enough drugs in the world to make people dance to The Island Come True.
The album’s 11 tracks are undoubtedly atmospheric, but they’re not atmospheric in any singular sense. Depending on the listener’s mood, they can sound pretty, wistful, menacing, or a strange combination of all three. This curious dissonance is a mark of this highly accomplished album’s quality.