Tape Loop Orchestra’s ambient music is an oscillating spiral that’s turned its face away from the light. Right off the bat, ‘Outer Light’ descends into the abyss with a sound like deep, lonely nights, developing behind-the-veil music – the flicker of a silk curtain, the invisible felt through a cool draught of air – where unknowable, gravel-voiced spirits return from the beyond. Tape Loop Orchestra’s use of the human voice helps the music to ascend. Because if the voice was absent, the music would remain in the dark. The gates creak open and splinters of aural decay enter into the world.
The penultimate release in his light series, ‘Return To The Light’ continues in the same vein, focusing on a voice to pull the listener out of the music’s spiral and into ‘the higher vibrations outside of bodily existence’. Tape Loop Orchestra’s spectral music resides in a thin place, as delicate as held porcelain, where phantoms bleed into empty streets and the area gives off the noir of a dead Hollywood. Faded lights shine from decrepit theatres and the screens inside the midnight showings weakly glow. The streetlights are pale, the streets like ghosts themselves, devoid of people save for the washed-out, blue-red-blue-red strobes of a police car on patrol. Like rain on skin, the ambient music absorbs all of this and more. Crackling at the edges, the music is frail but still here, and still playing despite its absence on the map.
‘Outer Light’ is quite constricted, its whole being collapsing and inverting, at least until the angelic vocals enter – only then does it pull itself up. Rumbling with the dark threat of a supermassive black hole, which sucks the music into its inescapable gravity, the music tries to cling on, using the vocal like a rope. The music is both emerging and decompressing, simultaneously destroying itself while a part aims for elevation, wanting to level up and providing glimpses of light among the contrast of giant shadows. A shadow can’t exist without a source, and this track opens up, threatening to either drown or transcend.
The fifteen-minute ‘Inner Voice’ is calmer and set at a slower pace, but it still echoes out from unknown locations, its repeating three notes reaching out and across from another dimension. The three notes fade away, but they transfigure before the eyes, changing into airy chants of vacancy and beauty. The voice is the light, and it keeps the staring dark at bay. The light comes from within, but it’s also capable of illuminating the Universe.