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Album review: “Ask The Dust” by LORN


text: Greg Sheer

Lorn’s sophomore effort Ask the Dust lifts its title from the novel of the same name by John Fante, which details the existential peril facing a young man, Arturo Bandini, who would dare to fancy himself an artist. Bandini’s first literary achievement comes by accident: he writes his editor a 40-page letter, detailing the harrowing depths of his malaise and disenchantment, as well as his self-doubt. The editor removes the greeting and ending of the letter, and publishes it. The product of the artist, the art, is not simply an accident, but something crafted and organic, then reframed into a new context. Which serves to recapitulate Bandini’s self-doubt, and his endless question: how can one be a true or a great artist, in their own time, in their own hopeless context?

To be sure: there is nothing accidental about Lorn’s new album. But there is a consistently droning ambience, resting at the periphery of the production; rising from the grey ambience, come rhythmically digital treatments of organic sound. The sound of flesh and blood, moaning at the digital seams. The tracks, at times (especially ‘Ghosst’ and ‘Chhurch’), feel more like little machines whirring to life, melodies and counter melodies amalgamating into the mechanism of these little machines like robotic arms along a conveyor belt.

There are a few tracks to mar this general outline, with the use of synth coming across as, well, synthetic. Overly so. See ‘The Well,’ for example.

The album’s use of poly-rhythm, and Lorn’s ability to pace out the development slowly lends greatly to a feeling of being enveloped in the songs, with tracks like ‘Dead Dogs,’ which also sets on display Lorn’s capacity to re-contextualize rhythm within an individual song, and modulate through various sonic textures.

The album is brooding, dark, and bears the capacity to be as hauntingly sparse as it is sonically overwhelming. It wears its industrial roots on its sleeve. But within this collection of little machines, there is a bleeding heart whose presence is undeniable and juxtaposed unsettlingly against the machinery of the music. A ghost in the machine.

Purchase the album on iTunes

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