Andrew Hargeaves’ Tape Loop Orchestra project has been as consistent as consistent can be with the quality of output he has released ever since his first release back in 2009. Now, with the release of the ‘Solar Light Emissions’ box set, which spans 3 LPs and 2 CDs, TLO creates its most expansive universe yet. And even with a run time of over 4 hours, what’s amazing is how immersive and engaging this compendium is. Seriously – this is one of the musical highlights of 2017 thus far and should be tracked down by any fan of the ambient/minimal electronic oeuvre.
You’ve referenced film in your previous works. I was trying to put my finger on something from the world of cinema that felt akin to this and thought of Tarkovsky’s ideas of space and the future – I’m thinking specifically of Stalker and Solaris. Was cinema on your mind for this at all or does this come from somewhere else altogether?
Film hasn’t really played a part in the creation of this collection. It’s interesting that you mention Tarkovsky, especially Stalker and Solaris as both those films explore the idea of the unseen, which is something I am interested in. This set continues the larger arch of my work exploring our approach towards the void and what is waiting as we make that step into it.
The text in the box set alludes to future states of humankind and there’s something futuristic and vast about the music itself. Was there a specific idea that motivated the pieces pre-construction or was it the sort of thing where you went back and realized the compositions fit together well?
When starting this project I had in mind a double album, but this grew as recording progressed. It became obvious that this set was a continuation of ideas that had begun on the albums “Go Straight Towards The Light Of All That You Love” and “The Invisibles” and will continue on the next records.
I always forget that there is the specific connotation for a segment of the population that ambient music is associated with the idea of ‘new age’. This feels like a play on that but to create something that addresses the sort of ominous quality of an unknowable future. Was this a conscious play on those constructs either in the creation of the box set art, the music itself, or both?
Instrumental music is such an abstract that it really cannot convey specific meaning, I like to carry this ambiguity to the visual side of my work. The writings hint at secret knowledge that once known will open up channels to other planes of existence. On some level it is a satire of the new corporate ‘mindfulness’ language, and other pseudo-spiritual fast-selling easy solutions to all your problems. On another it is a sincere way of sharing knowledge. I’m always gathering information from a vast array of sources, esoteric books, paranoid conspiracy rants, spiritual writings, ITC investigations, scientific papers (forgotten and new), mythology, film e.t.c. I then try and discover what connects them and present this in the albums, writing and artwork.
People who enjoy ambient/minimal electronic music are generally patient listeners who look for that immersive experience. Still though, a box set is pretty ambitious. What made you want to put this set of music out as one big compendium?
It is always gratifying that there is an audience for these extended works, who are willing to take time out of their lives to become immersed in these projects of mine. Hopefully they are able to take a short break from reality and experience something outside of themselves.
When I had finished the recording of the three albums I knew they were to be taken as parts of a bigger work, as a result it felt natural that they should be housed together. Having made the decision to go with the box format I wanted to add some special elements for the people who support my work. I am currently putting the finishing touches to the final volumes for this set, which will be available next year.