This review originally featured in The Skinny.
Aidan Moffat bows out of his L. Pierre project, but not before leaving an indelible, eerie commentary on our changing consumer patterns and how they could kill the music we claim to care for
From Arab Strap to collaborations with Bill Wells to the reimagined bothy ballads of Where You’re Meant To Be, Aidan Moffat’s lyrical genius, and indeed its delivery, have been pivotal to his persona. But over the past decade and a half, the creative outlet of L. Pierre has enabled Moffat to say so much without words, creating emotion and stories through soundscapes alone.
But it’s time to say goodbye with his fifth offering 1948–, and round off the project with a fitting end. Nathan Milstein’s version of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1948 was the first 12″ LP ever pressed. Here Moffat has lifted the recording in its entirety from YouTube, reimagining the piece through a warped manipulation of short samples to create an unsettling but bonnie beast.
The concept was pitched via post – just one rough LP with an accompanying letter to Melodic outlining what he was trying to say through the pieces and their presentation. It’s a commentary on changing consumer habits; the value of formats and the potential end of the road for vinyl, which he believes has come full circle and is teetering on the brink of extinction. The vinyl-only format is presented sleeveless, with no artwork to speak of (save for a copy of the letter), and in Moffat’s own words it’s designed to be damaged. He wants it to get scratched and battered, for each copy of the (initial) limited run to bear its own personal, unique scars.
It opens with sound akin to nuclear fallout; a scary near-silence of destruction, before a darting climb of repetitive, startled strings give the sense of panic like the scenes of shock and despair that might inhabit silent films. Things take an even more mournful turn with jarring, overlaid string sections seeking to compete, before anxious clips dance under scratched, cyclical surface noise.
What’s striking is the record’s flit from paranoia to foreboding, which lingers to the end of the vinyl’s locked groove. According to Moffat it’s a metaphor for how the lifespan of the LP is in the hands of consumers and listeners. It’s sad to see him part with Pierre, but as ever he’s pitched it right and bowed out in good time, leaving an indelible soundtrack of intelligent and bittersweet beauty.