hushed tone, endlessly repeated guitar lines, bells and a strong bass make up nearly all of Lori Scacco’s debut album Circles. A former member of the dream-pop band Seely, Scacco is no stranger to these parts. Her former band traded in the currency of contemplative mood and shifting expectations. But this time around we find Scacco only accompanied by fellow Eastern Development labelmate Tim Delaney (Kopernik) on bass.
The connection is a palpable one, as the songs tend to inhabit the same space that Kopernik’s did on their self-titled debut released last year. It’s the same space that Talk Talk, Bed and others have forged in recent years: a sort of controlled ambience that seeks to intoxicate the listener into a state of calm.
But unlike Talk Talk, Scacco doesn’t have the same command of emotional timbre. Instead of moving the listener through a variety of moods and feelings, much like Bed Circles is mostly a static affair. But, considering the title, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In fact, it seems to be mostly the point here.
Scacco describes her album as “a journey revealing the cyclical nature of love and the heart. life currents. geographical currents. spiritual currents. the ebb and flow of systems, panning back to see the greater motion. every shift absorbed and then again revealed.” And, if taken as merely this, it does an admirable job. Every shift in the music is absorbed into the greater calm, allowing little to stick out or, worse yet, to be remembered moments after listening.
Additionally, the album lacks any real tension. All of the elements are in place, carefully added upon and let out into the open only when they reach their most aurally pleasing moment. Which, on paper, sounds great. More artists should take the time to play the piano for so long that they can no longer understand what they’re playing or how they got there. But Scacco’s lines are almost too sweet and too pleasant. There’s little to grab on to here and lots to gloss over.
Like the cyclical guitar lines and ideas that begin each piece and then see them carefully through to their ending. Elements are most often picked up, embellished and dispatched along the way, but there is little left at the end except the beginning. And, as such, it’s an incredibly pleasant album. One that I find myself enjoying listening to while I write and think about it. But because of its willful lack of tension and spark between the elements it presents, it’s not something I’ll be coming back to very often.