Night Of The Endless Beyond is Neil McDonald’s third long-player as Lord Of The Isles, and his second for ESP Institute. Held up, first by the pandemic, and then by pressing plant delays, referencing Mario Hugo’s accompanying artwork, the label describes the record as being “lost in space”, which is kinda perfect for the existential searching that resides at its core. A set of deep introspective soundscapes, much of the album could be mistaken for “ambient” if it weren’t riding a muted, muffled 4 / 4. The beat often subtracted to such an extent that all that remains is a big booming vacuum. The bottom-end equivalent of a black hole.
The LP opens with a series of soothing synthetic explosions, producing a score suitable for lying, stoned, watching shooting stars, or fancy fireworks, in a clear night sky. Smudged dub techno textures are partnered with powerful obsidian pulses, and percussion rings like metallic sparks in the dark. Rhythms are flickering and filtered. Occasionally to the fore. Often off in the distance. Harmonies are hammered chimes – what could be treated kalimba, hang-drum, and / or guitar.
The music in places, such as on the song Otherness, touches on `90s IDM, and the pioneering electronics of people like Plaid. These serene synthetic symphonics sailing on subtly shifting dance-floor dynamics – waves of warped woozy loops woven around snapping snares and insistent high-hats – making the album cool for both home and the club.
The only vocal present is a snippet of simple, but profound, film dialogue, which appears on the track, Truth. It’s a sample of Harry Dean Stanton explaining why, while we’re here, we should all be nicer to one another. It’s buried in the mix, I guess in the hope that it might alter your thinking, subliminally.
Lord Of The Isles’ Night Of The Endless Beyond is released today, on ESP Institute.