Ask The Dust CD
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Milwaukee-based producer Lorn was the first non-LA based (or related) artist to sign to Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label / collective, where he released his first album, 'Nothing Else'.
Ask The Dust is Lorn s sophomore album and his first release on Ninja Tune which Lorn describes as haunted, oily, smeared, as opposed to the cold and strict(ness) of 'Nothing Else'.
'Ask The Dust' is named after the 1939 proto-Beat classic novel of the same name by John Fante. The album sees Lorn s music developing 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.
Lorn celebrates his switch from LA’s Brainfeeder label to its kindred UK spirit, Ninja Tune, with his follow-up to 2010’s Nothing Else, a landmark album of twisted electronics and cracked melodies. That album, Lorn’s full debut, saw him gain the support of fellow sonic samurai Amon Tobin, who he recently supported on the stunning ISAM tour, and earned him a flurry of praise.
It’s clear on Ask the Dust that Lorn, the musical mask for Milwaukee’s Marcos Ortega, has retained his love for melodies. But they remain so strained and squeezed by the oppressive beats and dark ambience that surround them that each melody is forced to dig its fingernails into the aural grit and cling on. It’s this mixture of strength and fragility that Lorn has made his trademark and it’s heartening to hear that, while this is no rehash of past glories, he can still create music that is as strong as it is sensitive.
The Well displays this talent, as distorted choral blasts and corroded bass and beats are joined by gentle interludes of piano and a simple vocal snatch that provides a tangible emotional pull. The grinding bass of album standout Ghosst is more of a sensory assault but still retains a soft, yielding core.
Ortega graces various tracks with his own heavily treated vocals, a trick employed briefly on his previous album but used more liberally on this occasion. Weigh Me Down opens with a contorted vocal hook, which is joined by fidgeting beats and metallic yet somehow emotive chords. A further layer of discernible lyrics is disarming on first listen though.
The vocal elements of the growling Diamond and neon-lit ballad The Gun are what play the greatest role in setting Ask the Dust apart from Nothing Else. Overall, however, both albums share the same darkly menacing tones; this is another ride that’s far from easy but is just as rewarding at times.
Less gritty, less grimy, and more digital in its overall sound but no less inventive than its predecessor, Lorn has thrown down another musical challenge that’s well worth rising to.
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Top Customer Reviews
shadows once more with a fine second album 'Ask The Dust'. His 2010
debut 'Nothing Else' received a good deal of airplay in The Wolfcave
and caused substantial amounts of dust and plaster to fall from our
ceiling (Scatty and Gritz - the cubs - said "play it loud Dad", so
I did!) Having found a new home with Ninja Tune Mr Ortega seems to
have broadened his sound palette with the ten tracks on offer. The
huge, grinding beats and uncompromising mood of seriousness are still
present and correct but tempered by greater evidence of light and shade
and openness of texture. His voice, albeit highly deconstructed and
distorted, also makes its presence felt more substantially than of yore.
Things kick of simply enough with opening number 'Mercy', a fairly
restrained introduction offsetting some nicely spooky synth doodles
against a slamming foursquare snare and bass drum percussion loop
but with second track 'Ghosst' the full force of Mr Ortega's dark
imagination is let loose with fire and fury. Its a great lumbering
beast of a composition, staggering across a burned and blasted
landscape with scant regard for whatever might step in its way.
'Weigh Me Down' and 'Diamond', with their quasi-orchestral Gothic
arrangements, however, both mine more complex sonic territory and
'The Well' is almost playful in comparison with its staccato choral
decorations and employment of more tangible melodic elements. The
cinematic ebb and flow of 'Everything Is Violence' crackles with
malevolent electricity and final track 'Ghosst(s)' is a veritable
nightmare landscape where a spectral voice wanders, lost and alone,
through the gathering gloom. It's all wonderfully atmospheric stuff.
Three cheers for Lorn says I! Looks like our ceiling's in trouble again.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I'll make it short and sweet (and I think my title said a lot already). This is in my top 5 albums this year. Just a great work. From the beautiful album art to the morbid music it never disappoints.
I bought the LPs and I'm very glad I did. I've framed the art (reminded me of an Escher piece) and the marbled Grey & Black vinyl is fantastic.
Lorn makes music to make your head nod. He makes music that puts an angry face on you no matter what you are doing. Not that this is angry music, it just makes you feel like a bad-ass when you listen to it. I am sure that sounds kind of cheesy, but really, listen to this and try not to make that stank face while you nod your head back and forth.
The best tracks here are the tracks with vocals. I assume they are Lorn's vocals and they are not at all sung but it's not really talking either, I guess it's somewhere in-between, but it works very well. He has a voice that is as deep and dark as his music is and it's honestly something that sets him apart from any of his other contemporaries, whoever they are.
On Weigh Me Down he has a repeated vocal sample that borders on catchy and it's flanked by his trademarked hard, but slow, bass. He kicks in a few lines of vocals and the combo of everything makes it the best track on the album. The Well is the one track that does have a build up and a large amount of layering. The end of the track becomes welled up (forgive the pun) with a wall of sound and hummed vocal track.
Overall Lorn isn't maybe doing a ton of original things, but he is doing enough unique things that he sounds different than anything else I can think of. It's dark hip-hop on some level, deep dubstep on another and it even goes to some catchy sounds here and there. If you want something that isn't afraid to be hard for the sake of being hard, but still have a gentle side at the same time, Lorn is your man.
Weigh Me Down