More essential material from Mary Lattimore, the Baltimore-based harpist who puts her instrument through subtly-tweaked delay with astounding effects. At The Dam was inspired by an American road trip, with much of the album apparently recorded in the desert and in the mountains. LP release on Ghostly International.
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- At The Dam by Mary Lattimore
9/10 Robin Staff review, 02 March 2016
Before listening to this record we made sure conditions were absolutely perfect: we broke our headphones, fucked up our computer’s sound system and generally invoked as many different channels of stress as possible. We learned whole new frustration-inspired ways to say the word “shit” that didn’t just involve adding an e on the end. In other words, we prepared ourselves to be completely pissed off with everything before listening to a new Mary Lattimore record. 9/10.
I say this because Lattimore’s music is a bright, beautiful light, one predicated on cascading harp drones and woozy electronic additives. It gives you the problem and then runs it concurrently with the solution, as if it were a healing spell in the middle of an RPG battle: there you are, about to die, before Lattimore casts a lovely beam of yellow around you, saving you from your respawn. She called one of her first twenty minute compositions “You’ll Be Fiiiiiiiiine”, and listening to ‘At the Dam’, curiously released on electronic monolith Ghostly, I still believe her. Though these pieces contain ominous minor moments, that harp feels like a quest item that solves all evils: you might be going through unknown territories when you hear a scary bass note or an unfamiliar synth, but that harp is there with you, occasionally dimming but never disappearing.
“The Quiet At Night” is one of Lattimore’s most triumphant moments to date, building on the promise of ‘Slant of Light’ and ‘Luciferin Light’ in delivering shortform versions of her work with the same fullness as her earlier work. The sharp harp notes fall apart and echo around the room in a friendly cacophony. On “Jaxine Drive” she interrupts separate motifs, sparking fuses of guitar against her harp fragments. These feel like friendly interactions, like lil’ hugs between good sounds. She's the kind of musician who makes you feel as if different sounds could be friends among friends, getting together and letting the love out after a long, long time.
I love it so much god fucking damnit. 10/10 album; 9/10 for critical integrity.
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