Reminiscence, place, and the methods they intertwine are recurring themes in Mary Lattimore’s music. The harpist’s titles usually allude to the locations she holds pricey, like Wawa, a mid-Atlantic comfort retailer chain recognized for its low-cost hoagies. “I’ve at all times beloved romantic melancholia in music,” she instructed 15 Questions, pinpointing her favourite musical qualities as “lush, deluxe with a bit nostalgia and a few inexplicable disappointment.” On West Kensington, she groups up with guitarist Paul Sukeena to proceed to discover the ways in which music can convey the previous to life. Spinning outward from quick, looping melodies that supply ample house for reflection, their music is tinged with a dreamlike haze.
The 2 musicians recorded West Kensington whereas lockdowns in the USA had been at their strictest. Sukeena and Lattimore lived subsequent door to one another in Los Angeles, they usually handed the time by making music collectively. Their tranquil 2020 observe “Dreaming of the Kelly Pool,” whose title references a public swimming pool in Philadelphia, supplied an early glimpse into their pensive model. West Kensington picks up the place “Dreaming of the Kelly Pool” left off, wrapping gauzy plumes round delicately interwoven synths, harp, and electrical guitar.
The duo’s most compelling tracks take advantage of each brightness and darkness. “Altar of Tammy” folds deep, agitated tones into twirling layers. Twinkling harp spirals round crunchy electrical guitar, constructing from tiny, melancholy melodies into huge undulations. “Didn’t See the Comet” equally unites airiness and moodiness. Right here, the duo weaves collectively spun-out drones that waver and develop, letting the pure pulse of the sound swell and dissipate.
West Kensington usually feels like a fantasy, hovering within the house between creativeness and actuality. At occasions, although, this starry-eyed model can really feel sluggish, weighed down by distorted results and repetition. Opener “Hundred Greenback Hoagie” builds from a quavering, ascending melody that repeats all through however by no means fairly blossoms. As a substitute, it sounds heavy, as if it’s caught in place. Quite than exploring the main points that made different songs really feel full, they lean an excessive amount of into one thought, forgoing intricacy for sameness. However with “Storage Wine,” the report’s most compelling observe, Lattimore and Sukeena effortlessly bridge poignant remembrance with glimmers of hope. It’s right here that the music encapsulates the broadest spectrum of feeling, from gloominess to contentedness.
Greater than two years since Covid-19’s arrival, the “pandemic report” has change into an more and more acquainted trope. West Kensington is one other addition to the bunch, however as a result of a lot of Lattimore and Sukeena’s work already dwelled upon wistful memory, their contribution to the style doesn’t really feel like a gimmick. As a substitute, it builds on themes they’ve usually explored to create music that’s each soothing and introspective. At occasions, the album’s balminess can really feel cloying, however at its greatest, it captures dazzling complexity with a swish contact. In these moments, Lattimore and Sukeena showcase the combination of melancholy, nostalgia, and pleasure that retains them pushing ahead.
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