Back in 2016, Pre-Cert Home Entertainment, the label run by members of Demdike Stare and Andy Votel, put out an excellent record by Sam A. McLoughlin under the name Tongues of Light. The idea behind the project was to wrap the phenomenon of glossolalia (commonly known as speaking in tongues with no discernible translation) into hypnogogic collages with synth surroundings that properly frame the otherworldly transmissions funneled through the speakers. The samples are sourced from a wealth of YouTube clips of the phenomenon (or hoax depending on your point of view) and by removing them from the sterility of the videos the McLaughlin finds a sense of haunting musicality in their incantations. Paired with vibrating synth landscapes, the vocals beam in from a subconscious ceremony of the mind.
Tongues of Light finds the line where psychedelic meats spiritual and hops back and forth across it like a sine wave pulse. The record mixes the haunted hollows of Leyland Kirby associated projects from The Caretaker to The Stranger with the translation-less vocal stylings of Dire Wolves or Magma. McLaughlin is able to weave the disparate source recordings into a tapestry of light and shadow that feels like it would have been right at home as a piece of Jodorowsky’s Dune – perhaps vibrating between the bands of Fremen that dot the barren landscapes. Whether you buy into the phenomenon or not, the second Tongues of Light LP makes plain that something eerily beautiful is at work in these recordings as he attempts to find a common thread between the immaculate and the intangible.
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