Lorn - Ask the Dust (LP - Clear Clouded Vinyl)
Lorn returns with a new full-length album, his debut on Ninja Tune, and it's a huge stride forward since "Nothing Else" (released on Brainfeeder, June 2010). Listening back to his first album, Lorn says it now seems "cold and strict." "Ask The Dust," on the other hand, is "haunted, oily, smeared," and with this description he captures something of the intensely felt, visceral aliveness of the music.
If Milwaukee-based Lorn began his musical career as a poet of alienation, then "Ask The Dust" (named after the 1939 proto-Beat classic novel of the same name by John Fante) sees his music develop a more human energy. In particular, the use of his own singing voice (a process which began on the last track of "Nothing Else," "What's The Use"), which has added a new dimension to his often crunching and brutal but never less than beautiful electronic music.
Take "Weigh Me Down," where Lorn comes surprisingly close to glitched-out soul music. It would be easy to overlook while reaching for muscular superlatives, but his music is also supremely melodic, where a tune like "The Well" (ostensibly "a soundtrack to being buried alive") is memorable for a melody that nags at your brain long after the music has stopped.
"Dead Dogs" combines spectral choirs with explosive drumming, (one of three tracks with live drumming). "Chhurch" combines the feel of early electro with Lorn's own highly developed aesthetic (originally written on tour, Gonja Sufi came up with lyrics to accompany it, but never recorded them anywhere else save his iPhone). But it's on a tune like "Ghosst" that he shows the sheer energy and raw drive he commands. It is exhilarating and slightly terrifying all at once.
Other highlights include, "This," a wipe of a hand across a chalkboard, so to speak. A simple sequence to reset things, a mantra to calm the nerves. "Diamond," was among the first written for 'Ask The Dust,' while Lorn was still up in northern Wisconsin, the last surge in his isolation, over the expanse of the lake in the house his grandfather built.
Since the release of Nothing Else, Lorn has toured the world alongside the likes of Mary Anne Hobbs, Amon Tobin, and Gonjasufi to name a few. He became a devout owner of a B5 A4, and much like his dedication to music and art, wasted no time tearing it apart in order to learn how to put it all back together again. "Ask The Dust" suggests he's learnt to do much the same with his emotions.