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 http://www.cyclicdefrost.com/2014/08/lortica-sad-ltd-ep-valley-spirit/, 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.