My friends, I have seen the future and it is named Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. No, it isn't the catchiest name but it is magnificent nonetheless. What a beautiful weekend of hockey after dark, with the boys picking up 3 points to start the season out west. With this newfound optimism, we are feeling energized here at Pound for Pound and ready to tackle our To-Post list.
First up is the most recent release from one of our favorite labels, Constellation Tatsu, Mary Lattimore & August Croy's Terelan Canyon. This one has been on the list for far too long, so I am thankful that I got a reminder to discuss it in the form of Lattimore's recent solo concert at PhilaMOCA. For that show, Lattimore played harp and a handheld effects device. I find myself increasingly interested these days in solo performances like this one, where an artist simultaneously explores the essence of their instrument while pushing at its limits and boundaries. In this case, Lattimore undermined the harp's gentle nature, creating extended explorations where the traditional soothing washes of notes were juxtaposed with sharp, stinging notes, jarring percussive knocks on the harp's body, and noisy synth effects which sounded like the machine rebelling. These sounds were accompanied by a beautiful film, which I can only describe as fever dream Tony Smith road trip movies, shot from inside a car of a psychedelic American landscape. Much like Teasips, she created a space that was more than meets the eye, revealing nature's dark side where the bucolic becomes anxious.
For this recording, Lattimore has teamed up with August Croy for a series of improvised duets. For those that don't know, in addition to making music solo and with others, Croy runs the excellent Root Strata label with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. Constellation gives us some of the backstory on the recording: "Having never met before going into the studio together, harpist Mary Lattimore and koto player Maxwell August Croy recorded an album in less than 48 hours, all live with zero overdubs. Terelan Canyon is a “new” sound built on interplay and improvisation that explores space and form, with virtually no ego, filled with sonic imagery and a tapestry of emotions." This translates into 7 tracks of a unique musical dialogue between two rare instruments, the harp and koto; while there is an undeniable appeal to hearing two rarely-heard instruments, this couldn't be further from just some oddball release. Rather it's a wonderful example of how two artists listening and responding to each other can create something new. The sounds of this conversation range from the quietest of whispers to a raging argument.
While the majority of the tracks fit our standard meditative vibe, recalling Tony Scott's classic Music For Zen Meditation And Other Joys, I wanted to highlight one of the album's early tracks, which challenged my preconceived expectations and the album's template. When I think about the sound of the harp and koto, I conjure up images of calming waters, whether the singular raindrop-like notes or the strummed waves. "Down Terelean Canyon," the album's second song, is perhaps the one song where the koto takes center stage, bringing a noisy edge to the proceedings. With the song's crescendos, Lattimore and Croy are able to establish a more varied pace and texture than the remainder of the album.
I definitely recommended this one to anyone interested in the quieter, acoustic side of things, ambient, classical, New Age; while it touches on all of those genres, it definitely offers something more than those tags suggest. It's just a beautiful 35-minute conversation between two artists listening intently to each other. Fittingly for such a unique work, this album is available on vinyl, a rare format for the cassette-centric Constellation Tatsu. You can grab your copy of the limited edition LP for the nice price of $15, which includes both a download code for a digital copy and shipping. I mean, seriously that's a great deal. For the non-vinyl people, hit the Constellation Tatsu Bandcamp store for a digital copy in format of your choice for $7. For more info on Mary Lattimore, check out her personal site or her soundcloud; we'll hopefully be reviewing more of her work soon. More August Croy info and sounds can be found at his homepage and soundcloud. More great new music is on the way, so come back here!