Brussels-based Lawrence Le Doux returns to Nous’klaer Audio with his first 12-inch release, Compassion Lake. Le Doux’s signature ethereal sound design weaves through this record, providing
the glue which binds disparate rhythmic passages and time-bending soundscapes.
From the opening of the five track EP, the title track showcases Le Doux’s commitment to intricate sound design, as he constructs a slowly evolving and meditative sonic space. The track ripples subtly, with airy synths and field recordings grounding this track in the serenity the record’s title fosters. Yet this serenity is somewhat short-lived with the following track, ‘Alta’, taking a deep and dubby turn with aggressive synth stabs cutting through, before fading into a blissful ending passage.
A particular highlight is ‘Tout’, which harks back to early noughties video-game soundtracks. Its nostalgic synth and drum-machine rhythms births a groovy melange perfect for a set opener, with complex percussion lines constantly modulating and keeping the listener hooked. Whilst much of the sound design on this release is really forward-thinking and expressive, some moments leave me wanting a bit more, particularly on the lower end of the frequency spectrum. Whilst these soothing tracks would be perfect for an opening set or for home listening, the bass sounds are lacking a certain punch that could really crystallise these grooves into soundsystem heaters.
Bringing us back to the serene opening, closing track ‘Absolute Beginners Take 7’ provides a minimal and mollifying end to the release, with luscious synth layers taking the listener on a floaty journey punctuated by the occasional appearance of some finely tuned percussive elements.
Compassion Lake provides a great exposition of Le Doux’s impressive production skills, showing off his ability to flit between distinct styles of ambient music fairly seamlessly. Each track brings a different and exciting perspective, whilst the airy and luscious synths glue the rhythmic passages of the release together.
Producing a congruous release which covers so many bases can be tricky, but Le Doux really pulls it off, and whilst some elements come across a bit garish at times, the release as a whole is one which evokes the warming and consolatory feeling of the lake the title suggests, providing a sleek set of tracks perfect for a Sunday soundtrack, or a laid back radio set.