Michael Tanner presents a set of musics imbued with dreams of rural Sussex and memories of strangeness in the 70’s, all put across with psaltery, dulcimer, and Alison Cotton’s viola. Rich, woozy melodic folk-drones follow. Suite for Psaltery and Dulcimer is released in a limited edtion of 300 copies, on Kit Records.
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- KR16 / Limited LP on Kit Records aka Plinth. Edition of 300 copies with hand-stamped labels
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- Suite for Psaltery and Dulcimer by Michael Tanner
8/10 Robin Staff review, 11 May 2016
Lovely Kit with their lovely records. Having recently released Mary Lattimore’s harp drones via a swell tape slash beam of light called ‘Luceferin Light’, it doesn’t surprise me that Michael Tanner’s new record sounds like this. These meandering ambient tracks have been prepared for the very instruments they propose: a little psaltery here, a little dulcimer here, and the world’s axis spins that little bit more readily. According to the press release, these tunes are “half-imagined worlds”, inviting the listener to half-imagine the rest. This thought feels almost essential to ambient music, now that I think about it -- it suggests that the music marries the intentions of the artist and the reception of its listener, rather than demand we assign just the one truther.
These tracks are sparse and slow-building, and as they start to put the landscape into place they begin to do lots of things: “Psaltery” is at first poised, Tanner playing the instrument with an innate knowledge of it. It eventually starts to tremble and rise, coupled with Allison Cotton’s viola, which seems to be spiralling downward as his instrument climbs past it. At one point, little plucks of the psaltery are all that remain (I have to assume calling a psaltery “plucked” is technically acceptable), the song moving into an ominous second half that recalls what Jeff Ziegler often does to Lattimore’s hopeful tunes.
Flip it and you’re listening to dulcimer, pal. It sounds less homely, distanced from its listener in a foggy production that Grouper might want back. These two tracks might be the prettiest of the bunch, though they’re less full of surprises. So get yourself adequately spooked on that side A and then have a nice time over on this here side B. And don't forget to take notes about what your mind sees.
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