Cyclic Defrost review - Mialle Tapes

2014 has been a fruitful year for Sydney based musician Alister Hill. Under the nom de plume of Lortica, Hill has released a debut EP  – SAD LTD EP  – and now his first full length album, Mialle Tapes.  Both works have received critical attention and a stack of independent radio play.

Hill manipulates found cassettes, guitars, effects pedals and a four track tape deck into dark ambience.  Given his penchant for cassettes, Mialle Tapes has an unsurprising lo-fi aesthetic; in fact most of the tracks are coated in persistent tape hiss, which becomes a unifying timbre for the album.

In his Cyclic Defrost review of SAD LTD EP, Greg Bird described the construction of “murky soundscapes” and “weathered loops”. If anything, Mialle Tapes muddies the waters even more. There is much less use of repetition as a compositional tool, rather this album is closer to pure through composed sound design. To my ears, Lortica mines a similar vein to Tim Hecker.

The tracks evoke a lonely, vast space. Wind howls, ghostly unintelligible vocals appear and a post-apocalyptic isolation hangs.  On subsequent listens, new noises, snatches of rhythm and harmony became apparent and I found the unravelling nature of Mialle Tapes to be intriguing.

Hill has done well to maintain the aesthetic of his debut, whilst leading it into a new place. Mialle Tapes is available digitally on the great Feral Media label and – aptly – on cassette via Danish label, Phinery.