Legiac :: The Voynich Manuscript (Dronarivm)

Legiac leave behind their beat-driven past and evolve into pure ambience.

Legiac :: The Voynich Manuscript (Dronarivm)

Legiac have put together a lovely release on the Russian Dronarivm label, which finds Roel Funcken and Cor Bolten leaving behind both one Funcken brother and all trace of the crunchy, glitchy beatwork which characterized earlier releases. This new edition, named after “an early 15th century hand-written and illustrated codex,” explores sonic realms of shifting synthetic and organic soundscapes but eschews percussive rhythms for its 53-minute running length.

Funcken prepared the listening world for the album well in advance of its release, by putting together an epic four-and-a-half hour mix released on Headphone Commute. Over the course of its 90-odd tracks, he interwove the new Legiac material with influences and references which place the music in context: modern classical artists like Tim Hecker and Benoît Pioulard/Thomas Meluch figure prominently.

It’s difficult to pick apart the album track-by-track, as the different titles are more variations on a few themes than distinct “songs.” The title track is representative: processed wind/ocean noises and faint high bird chirps place us outdoors on a cliff or coastline, a warbling, gently glitching organ melody gives way to a clearer, restated arpeggiation and a greater sense of urgency or tension. A low drone builds, and then the surf crashes in and sweeps it all out to sea.

It is all quite lovely as a whole, and if the cost of that is a lack of individual standout tracks, it’s a fair price to pay; the Legiac/Dronarivm fanbase is not generally seeking out “club bangers” and the album works well to put on the headphones and listen to straight through. The track titles are perhaps a wry nod to this indistinguishability as they continue the tradition The Faex Has Decimated established of using wordplay and Spoonerisms in lieu of enshrining a sample or lyrical hook in the title. Notable examples are “Bognitive Cypass” and “Vellular Cito” (plays on “Cognitive Bypass” and “Cellular Vito,” respectively). There’s even a reference to a Faex track (“Mantikytheria Echanism”) in the album closer “Ambikytheria Mechanism,” though if the songs’ content is also related, it’s subtle enough that I wasn’t able to detect how.

In whole, this is a polished and technically accomplished release from Legiac which has proven effective both in drifting me off to sleep with visions of windswept towers suffused with ethereal music and by providing a daytime soundtrack for relaxation and introspection.

The Voynich Manuscript is available on Dronarivm.

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