Kranky continue to impress me with every release submitted to Fluid Radio HQ, and Justin Walter’s “Lullabies And Nightmares” has to be their best offering since Liz Harris and Tiny Vipers’ Mirroring project on the label. Adept synergy, in two words…
But this is a different type of synergy than your standard kosmiche fare. Arpeggiation (“Dream Weaving”) of synths is a stringing feature throughout, supplying washes of short-lived intensity with a scrumptuous vitality of Plaid and Lamb quality. Concepts of dreaming, sleep and awakening, what’s between hitherto, is ingrained in Ambient, from Karl Verkade’s “The Morning We Wake”, to Suzanne Ciani’s New Age piano waltzes. Justin Walter marries this theme of arise and recline with a spritzy Jazz flecking.
“Lullabies And Nightmares”, the titular cut, gratefully allows the psychedelic saxophone curio of Miles Davis mashed with a silver trumpet spoon, thick lumps of World Music stock cube gravy, going skittery-schizophrenic up the right channel but being hugely enthralling. But one might have doubts that it marks out any clear phenomenon. This sound-world is too improvised to be completely programmed, having a distinctive energy to it, but at the same time caresses the groaning hinges of the psyche – the WD40 requisites – into a wet sunrise.
That liquidity of heat really comes to the fore in “Western Tears”, an empowered musical statement that draws from Biosphere’s arpeggiated rhizome as a routinely resourced toing-and-froing of brain-friendly fragments and an active edit needed of certain prefrontal cells.
Textures on this LP are tightly knotted to tension and release, rhythm and resignation, property and antithesis. Wherever a melody seems to verge on contradicting another, as on “The Way Of Five”, with the trumpet-y plenty, loving chords smooth out the ride to a cruise. Finding the “other example” with this release, by the halfway point, proves futile – you become fully absorbed in Walter’s wondrous blare. Never is it a flat out letdown; eddies mark out an instantaneous showing feel to the composite parts, creating intimate ecstascy.
Fred Thomas’ summation in the liner notes smacked the nail on the head: “The nightmares are there, with dissonance and panic on the heels of redemption in almost every song, but they’re there only to be awoken from. The lullabies pass by quickly, too.” It’s joyous Improv.
“Lullabies And Nightmares” ends a yielded anthology of bypassing “a Nonesuch release”, in Kranky’s own belief, that it would be labelled dryly. Far from ideal: this record deserves a wedding bells blaze all of its own. Absolutely brilliant, and one of my favourite LPs for some time.
– Mick Buckingham for Fluid Radio