Labradford: E luxo so

[9 May 1999]

By Joel Hanson

Perhaps the two most important components of creating memorable mood music are the use of restraint and a respect for silence. In other words, it is everything a composer leaves out of a piece and the sufficient spaces created between the remaining instruments and notes that lead to the most compelling soundtracks. Consistent with the above “rules” of composition, Labradford’s ambient instrumental music has become more and more effective as it has grown increasingly sparse and minimalist, just like the blurry black and white image that graces the cover of the band’s fifth release, E luxo so. I don’t have any idea if Carter Brown and Mark Nelson are still the creative force behind the group; neither their names nor their pictures appear on Mi Media Naranja or the current release. But I don’t think it matters if I know; the sparse packaging, abridged liner notes and untitled songs seem intentionally austere in order to direct the listener’s attention specifically to the music while nevertheless maintaining an air of mystery regarding its production.

Each of the six songs on E luxo so feature a different instrument to evoke divergent and sometimes conflicting moods, but there is something meaningful here for every lost soul patient enough to notice the unique way that sound can alter the significance of images—either on a movie screen or in one’s head. E luxo so contains hammered dulcimer, droning, delay-pedaled Morricone-esque guitar, vibraphones and key changes that pay reverent homage to Angelo Badalamenti circa Twin Peaks, simple, spacious piano chords that fall somewhere between the hopeful spirit of Mark Hollis and the bleak emptiness elicited by Gordon Sharp—particularly on the latter half of Cindytalk’s In This World—and strings to complement the proceedings. The result is beautiful but ambivalent and tension filled—the ideal sonic catalyst for remembering, or forgetting, all of your mistakes.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/labradford-eluxo/