- Unexpectedly delicate ambient from the L.I.E.S. artist.
- The initial wave of recognition for L.I.E.S. positioned founder Ron Morelli and his record label at the intersection between experimental electronics and techno. That can be a tough place to be, as fans from one or both sides could end up unsatisfied. Morelli walks the same line with his own releases, which have become steadily gnarlier and less mixable since the politely weird house jams he produced in the early '10s. In 2013 he began a run of snarling LPs on Dominick Fernow's long-running experimental outpost Hospital Productions, but his latest release signals a changing tide. Man Walks The Earth is prettier and more delicate than Morelli has been in years, if ever.
The album, released by Collapsing Market, feels more introspective than his Hospital releases, which often took on a more caustic emotional timbre and cues from industrial or noise. They featured the occasional run-down rhythm to go with Morelli's toxic sound design. Man Walks The Earth forgoes percussion and smoothens his jagged edges into glassy waves of resonant ambience or textured sound swells. There are rhythms—there's a lurching pulse on "Earth Rotates On Its Axis" and the delayed droplets of sound on "Stone Tools" create a tempo—but no beats.
The most striking thing about Man Walks The Earth is that it lacks the aggression typical of Morelli's work. Still, nothing is entirely sweet. There's a hint of melancholy in the dreamy, gliding aquatic tones that surface on the opener, "Fear Upon Seeing His Reflection In The Lake." "The Search For Others" unsettles with hollow echoes that skate across a desolate soundscape. Others, like the droning "30 Million Years To Recover," draw from a grim, greyscale palette that, on previous releases, Morelli contorted into noxious textures. But the sounds' slow evolution imbues the track with a spaced-out, eyes-unfocused quality that feels contemplative and placid.
The stylistic developments apparent on Man Walks The Earth expand Morelli's repertoire, reaching for inspiration outside the bounds of harsher genres like industrial and turning instead to patient composition and gentler sounds. It's not a groundbreaking progression for experimental or ambient music writ large, but that's never been Morelli's strength or his most valuable role. He's proven himself as a stellar curator who bridges music from the past with contemporary permutations, and his desire to integrate fresh influences fuels his enduring credibility.
01. Fear Upon Seeing His Reflection In The Lake
02. The Search For Others
03. 30 Million Years To Recover
04. Earth Rotates On Its Axis
05. A Long Walk At Night
06. Stone Tools
07. Uninvited Brute
08. The Sun Beats Stronger As Each Day Passes