Lorn’s opening to Nothing Else is a little unsettling. Ominous, bassy synths, staccato motifs and surging walls of sound. It’s like dub meets IDM and rather than being outright sinister it’s just knowingly unhinged.
Indeed, the entire album is much like the black and white hypnotic spiral emanating from behind his deep-in-shadow Myspace headshot. Lorn has a good line in messing around with his sounds; they fade in and out, seem to swirl, pan, cross fade and flange. I’d hesitate to say it’s a checklist of digital manipulation as a lot of it is definitely subtle enough to be enjoyable over repeated listenings but for the dense electronica novice it could also easily induce a little nausea, not unlike feeling seasick.
Music like this draws me in though. The soundscapes are mesmeric in their seething intensity and the heavy, harsh techno/dub beats are to the rhythm of a creeping neurosis. There are no sunshine breaks, no blissed out bridges (until very late in the album); and how better to illustrate than the central brace of tracks being ‘Void 1‘ and ‘Void 2’? Further corroboration: ‘Army Of Fear’, ‘Automaton’, ‘Glass & Silver’, ‘Greatest Silence‘ and the final aural resignation of closing track ‘What’s The Use’.
Don’t let the oppressive atmosphere of this album downplay it’s intelligence and understanding however. Whilst, yes, this is more suited to fans of the typically more industrial moods of harsh electro or dub, Lorn certainly reaches out from the abyss with a gleam in his eye to claim new listeners, especially in the latter half of the album, and it’s here he shines.
The aforementioned ‘Glass & Silver’ is an album highlight; the unusually framed melody is ensconced with a compelling array of clicks, blips, basso rumbles and reckless abandon for organic sounds of any kind. Following track ‘Cherry Moon’ still surges with a threatening undertone but comes as close to anything on here as wistful, the rousing, string-like synth hits proving a completely unexpected mood lift. In many ways a more even dissemination of such heavily veiled, reluctant positivity throughout the album would have propelled it to greatness. ‘Greatest Silence’ nevertheless is a thumping, reverberating piece that ropes you in quickly.
Lorn has a complex album in Nothing Else. Despite much negative signposting in the song titles and threatening rumbles of the first two thirds of the album, he demonstrates a redemptive side in in final four tracks that leave you on a serious high; something that many albums, no matter how good, forget the virtue of. This means you’ll be willing to step back in the shadow for a repeated listen and yet again emerge unscathed by the final track. In this way Nothing Else is a great, circular record that I can easily recommend to anyone but the most die hard claustrophobics.