L. Pierre – Touchpool
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Touchpool is the second stunning album from L Pierre aka Aidan Moffat, one half of Arab Strap. L Pierre’s debut album Hypnogogia released in September 2002 was greeted with all round critical acclaim from the dance fraternity (Gilles Peterson and Nick Warren in particular) as well as the rock monthlies and broadsheet press. ‘An astonishingly evocative, emotionally potent record with a serene but terribly sad beauty’ said The Times. Touchpool provides more of the same, and fortunately for the listener that means more of the same grand, sampladelic, atmospheric strings interwoven with light and dark only a member of Arab Strap could bring. Where Hypnogogia was a collection Moffat’s spare studio hours messing with samples, drum machines and loops over a period of around 5 years, Touchpool was formed and recorded in one go. This time the formula is similar, with drum machines and orchestral loops providing the back bone. The main difference is the addition of live musicians which makes for a much fuller and more epic listening experience. Aidan explains, ‘I think the album sounds more together as a whole than Hypnogogia, because it was recorded with the intention of making an album, whereas the first one was a bit of a lucky dip and made up of tracks that I’d done over a few years. This wasn’t an artistic choice, just sheer laziness!’ Arab Strap’s other half, Malcolm Middleton plays guitar and bass on Baby Breeze, with Dave MacGowan and Allan Wylie from the Arab Strap live set up contributing pedal steel (on Jim Dodge) and trumpet (on Total Horizontal) respectively. Hypnogogia became the Melodic label’s best-selling release to date and the subsequent audience that was created for Lucky Pierre had an effect on Aidan, ‘Your approach to music always changes after you know you’ve got an audience, whether it’s 100 or 10,000 it doesn’t matter. I find it comes naturally to hate everything you do after it’s been released, because you constantly want to improve, so I’m already thinking about the next album, which will have more musicians and no drums whatsoever.’ But back to this album and some intriguing song titles; Rotspots From The Crap Map was a headline ‘from some Scottish tabloid and was referring to our poor tourism.’ ‘Jim Dodge Dines At The Penguin Cafe reminds me of Jim Dodge’s books and sounds like the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.’ Velbon turns out to be an anagram of ‘LVB – Beethoven’s initials, and ENO, because it’s a loop from LVB and sounds like Brian Eno.’ Baby Breeze was named after a girl in an old 70’s Penthouse magazine ‘from my collection of vintage porn’ and Total Horizontal is ‘how my friend Neale describes the mental and physical state in which the music should be listened to.’ The success in the recording of Touchpool are the seemless segues between live instruments and samples which Aidan concludes with a hint of irony, ‘This time I suppose I must’ve been trying harder. If you don’t really notice the joins, then it’s been a success. Either that or the musicians who played all sound like robots!’