Monday, November 5, 2007

Lanterns – Lughnasadh [Peasant Magik]

Lanterns, for those who don’t know, are a trio of UK basement dwellers. They seem to operate with one foot in the serene drone bucket and the other in a jangling free-folk bucket (what kind of lame analogy is that?). This CD-r on Philadelphia’s Peasant Magik label is, if I’m not mistaken, the group’s first stateside release after tapes and CD-rs on Sloow Tapes, Blackest Rainbow, First Person and other European buddies.
So anyhow, Lugnasadh has 3 tracks just like Lanterns got members. The first is the awesomely titled “Inectoplasmic Blues”. I dig the ragged arrangement on this one; there are a bunch of elements on this: a couple guitars, various percussion (drums, cymbals, shakers), flute and some vocal coos and moans. Aesthetically, the track is similar to the ilk of 6majik9 or Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood, but with a slightly muffled quality. While retaining that fragmented aesthetic though, the group keeps everything moving in a surprisingly focused direction. Also, at certain points different elements appear at the forefront, as if they all rotated, taking turns standing closest to the microphone. I’m not sure how they did that (mixing maybe?) but it’s a cool little effect.
“Suma” follows and skews to the more dronier side of things. Beginning with a single high-pitched whine and incorporating, bit by bit, other sustained tones, a garbled vocal sample, subtle additions on guitar, a simple, muted drum pattern and something that sounds bowed but it may just be a keyboard or something. The whole ordeal is pretty placid and hypnotic, and floats along on the fluttery sustain of organ tones. Really easy to get lost in. Especially the insanely brief and insanely beautiful guitar outro. Come on Lanterns! The track could have run for at least another three minutes on that little baby alone and you gave me about 20 seconds worth. So other than the track ending much too soon, it’s a real nice piece.
The final track, “Mong” is a good deal longer than the previous two. It begins similarly to “Suma” but focuses more on low frequency guitar sustain and vague, disembodied vocals. There are strange almost squelching type sounds poking through in the background as well. Lanterns create a very pleasant fog, almost like the time at night when your body is getting tired and ready for bed and you feel peaceful in your submission to sleep. Maybe that’s not how nights are for other people, but, for me, “Mong” has that same restless calm. The track builds gradually as hushed cymbal clatter tiptoes in. I’m wondering if the squelching sounds from the beginning are actually heavily effected cymbals. Eventually a more formal drumbeat is composed taking the track to its final fadeout. All in all, it’s a nice trance maybe a bit like a less acoustic GHQ or the most singularly sloshed (VxPxC) moments.
Lugnasadh is still available from Peasant Magik and comes in a slimline snapcase with wraparound artwork by Mel (Crowley?) from Ashtray Navigations and a pasted-on insert inside. Limited to 100 so make you’re move.

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