Harpist Mary Lattimore justly received praise for her last solo LP, “The Withdrawing Room”. On that album, the harp was a vehicle winding through electroacoustic lanes. With Jeff Zeigler on production for “Slant Of Light” on Thrill Jockey, peaceful passages of harp intertwine with bass resonances and step sequences that tread lightly, occasionally stopping for a few seconds, but always propelling the piece towards its end. It’s her best joint statement in a year.
Opener “Welsh Corgis In The Snow” has a certain royal grace about it, locked in the key of C and pricking up your ears with synthesiser peering over the shoulder of the harp. There is a tendency to repeat, to look back and recoup momentum as the track edges on. It never sounds short on ideas yet the palette is very restricted, making it quite enigmatic. “The White Balloon” inflates guitar arpeggios with sprinklings of Lattimore’s harp, which touches the surface of the former’s strings and drizzles down with accompanying synthesiser like a window pane gradually amassing rain droplets.
The deceptively conservative nature of the playing actually heightens the experience. This is because chords are given time to settle, tonality place to intermingle, and rhythm room to pedal. The cyclical structures of “Echo Sounder”, with a static synthesiser drone starting the piece out, soon fuses fluttering fauna of harp and a higher sustain on the drone to create an angelic echo on your nervous system. For me it’s the highlight tune, sounding not a million miles away from Leafcutter John’s instrumental section on “The Forest And The Sea” concept record. Or perhaps Rameses III’s “I Could Not Love You More” is closer. As a whole “Slant Of Light” is a welcome opening of the curtains in the morning, rather than a curtain call on experimentalism. Decorated by permeable washes, like a sprinkler spraying out pink paint, the skin of the release remains texturally fleshed-out in all the right ways.
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Photo by Ryan Collerd