subota, 18. svibnja 2013.

Mary Lattimore - The Withdrawing Room (2013)


Komadići harfe razbijeni tijekom seobe planina, skupljeni usnama i potom zakotrljani niz spaljeni planet.

Chances are you’ve heard Mary Lattimore play without even realizing it as her harp has graced records by Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile, and Meg Baird among many others. But you haven’t heard Lattimore utilize her instrument quite like this since “The Withdrawing Room” sees her equally dependent on the rich acoustic harp sounds and the long decays provided by a Line 6 loop pedal. It’s a curious mix of sound and anyone who has twisted the knobs of a delay pedal will be familiar with the erratic, warbled contortions heard on “Pluto the Planet” and “Poor Daniel.” It meshes with her clean, cascading plucks in a variety of ways – at times overwhelming them, other times subtly augmenting them. However, her harp gets downright shredded on the 25 minute opener “You’ll Be Fiinne” by ringing feedback and throbbing low end that is as exciting as it is alarming. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Mary Lattimore’s debut The Withdrawing Room is a stunning experiment, a counterexample to music as our shared sense. Watch audiences at galleries, museum exhibits, or book readings. These are rooms of individuals, a fact that does not reflect positively or negatively on the crowd, it is simply a characteristic of the art. But rhythm and dissonance unite us. So look now to the crowds at nightclubs and live music venues: dancing with, embracing, even sharing drinks with strangers. Art exhibits don’t have that effect, nor are they meant to.
This way we can think of The Withdrawing Room as a visual art exhibit, having been composed for reflection, like the name implies. It is not dissonant at all, and does not crack the listener over the head with pounding, literal rhythms. The surrounding room does not exactly feature, either: there are no reverberations from hardwood floors or distance between listener and artist. Lattimore is a 20-year harp veteran from Philadelphia who has logged collaborative time with Arcade Fire, Thurston Moore and Kurt Vile. Co-composer Jeff Zeigler manipulates the signal with ambient Korg improvisations, and the result is not listener immersion, but incorporation. Hence the statement about The Withdrawing Room really being more about the former than it is the latter; the sound is intangible, essential.
The nurturing tones (and title) of “You’ll Be Fiiinnne” come first. The harp-already a lowercase instrument-establishes a fleeting, high-register, almost organic source for Zeigler’s concurrent horseplay. The electronics are noninvasive: think of a crisp fall evening, an expert musician playing casually, and that odd moment when you realize the rustling leaves and insect sounds are adding to the performance instead of taking away. At times the strings are so ethereal we lose focus, and at others the electronics become downright playful. But it is a necessary introspection and–at 24 minutes–a rather long one. And just like any inward glance, it offers a dozen moods or more.
“Pluto the Planet” is considerably more homogenous, although the cosmic populist stance implied by the title is a mirage. These clusters of notes and quirky devices mean states, not expanses. This is a brainy and singular retreat, beckoning and brightly lit. After two tracks spanning over 40 minutes, “Poor Daniel” is a quick epilogue, although we’ve long drawn our conclusions by now: fragile, sublime and alive. What sets the album apart is that it sets us apart, which is simply a characteristic of the art.
- Fred Nolan for Fluid Radio

The Withdrawing Room spreads three pieces by harpist Mary Lattimore across two sides of black vinyl (available in 300 copies), though in this case, surprisingly enough, it's the dominant B-side piece that is the more satisfying. Although Lattimore (credited with playing a Lyon & Healy Style 30 harp and Line 6 looper on her debut release) has made a name for herself for playing with artists such as Thurston Moore and Kurt Vile,The Withdrawing Room is largely a solo project, the exception being the opening piece, which includes Korg Mono/Poly contributions from Jeff Zeigler.
Though his electronic interventions add dramatic and wide-ranging colour to the A-side's “You'll Be Fiiinnne,” they also displace the listener's focus away from the sparkling, wave-like clusters Lattimore generates with her looping device. Having said that, there's no disputing the fact that “You'll Be Fiiinnne” presents an arrestingly original sound-world that, if anything, grows ever more unusual as it progresses through its twenty-four minutes. Fast-forward ten minutes into the journey and you'll hear the harp patterns receding into the background and the front-line inhabited by all manner of woodland spirits and goblins; jump ahead three more minutes and you're in the middle of a churning industrial factory where warbly, sci-fi electronics wage war with violent harp plucks.
The album's other long setting, “Pluto the Planet,” is more satisfying for subtly embellishing her solo playing with electronic treatments. Often assuming a liquidy quality, the harp notes in this case bleed off to form woozy glissandos, an effect that lends the material a hazy, dream-like quality. In fact, the generally slow and stately “Pluto the Planet” often sounds as if it could be Eno inhabiting the producer's chair, with the re-shaping of the harp's playing often calling to mind the quieter sequences on the Fripp-Eno collaborations No Pussyfooting and Evening Star. Somewhat like a microcosm of the album as a whole, the two-minute closer, “Poor Daniel,” juxtaposes melodic harp patterns and chaotic treatments, with neither one the obvious victor.
It's telling that The Withdrawing Room is at its most satisfying when Lattimore's resplendent playing is presented in its its purest form. Nevertheless, the material is as far removed from anything remotely harp-like as could be imagined, so Lattimore certainly earns points for boldly going where no harpist has gone before. .

I’ve got a lot of rather difficult records to review this morning. There’s an LP full of new agey drones, an LP of recordings of frogs, and a head-mangling double LP from improv splatter giants Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt. It’s a bit of light relief, then, to come to this LP by Mary Lattimore which features three lengthy compositions which prominently feature Lattimore’s harp and looper. Mary has played with the likes of Thurston MooreMeg Baird,Jarvis Cocker and Kurt Vile already but this is her first record under her own name.
The A side is taken up by the 24-minute ‘You’ll Be Fiiinnne’ which also features some subtle synthesis from Jeff Zeigler, who also recorded the album. The track opens with graceful harp flurries which echo into nothing, easing us in, before things get quite dark and otherworldly in the middle, and then the gentle chirruping of robotic rainforest ambience accompanies some delicate, crisp harp twinkling towards the close. It’s that old chestnut of order to discord to order but delivered with such subtlety and delicacy that it’s hard not to be seduced by the stoically woven shimmers.
Over on the other side are two shorter pieces, ‘Pluto the Planet’ and ‘Poor Daniel’, where Jeff puts his synth away and lets Mary get on with the twinkling on her own. The former is by far the longer of the two and sees layers of shimmering harp gradually layered into a dense, undulating, distant mass of ethereal twinkles, later joined by clearer, more pronounced plucked notes in the foreground which loop patiently in the foreground as the shimmers die to a throbbing drone. Then to close, the latter is a mournfully plucked melody based around a heartbreaking chord sequence which opens the piece, and its gradual disintegration and decay into a mess of disjointed, confused looping, which encapsulates the patient juxtaposition of order and chaos, indulgent beauty and purposive discomfort, in a concise postscript in case the listener missed the point during the rest of the album. Really intriguing sounds. - Norman Records

Five Things That Inspired Mary Lattimore’s Debut Album, The Withdrawing Room

Mary Lattimore, the Philadelphia harpist, has performed and/or recorded with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Daughn Gibson, Meg Baird, Tall Firs, Kurt Vile, Nightlands, and many others. (From March 25-31, she’ll be one of the two harpists performing as part of Nick Cave’s HEARD•NY at Grand Central Terminal). And her debut solo album, The Withdrawing Room, will be released in late March by the Desire Path label. Lattimore has recently been performing in duo with Arc In Round’s Jeff Zeigler (electronics/synthesizer), including a gorgeous 34 minute improvisation at one of our recent Folkadephia Sessions. Zeigler makes a few appearances onThe Withdrawing Room, and the duo’s next concert is this Thursday at Kung Fu Necktie.
“Just like on the album,” says Lattimore, “when Jeff and I play live, it’s all improvised. I’ve been trying out a starting-point, a basic melody, but it takes different turns and changes into something different each time. I am still experimenting with ways of sustaining, and want to get more pedals to play through. Right now, I just use my Line 6 green looper and by repeating notes really fast through the effects, it can create a sort of wall of glitter where you can’t really hear the attack, which I like. Right now, I’m preferring more of a hazy and dark sound, or a wash of color, rather than a sharp, clear harp, stringy pluck.”
In preparation for Thursday’s show, and her debut album, we asked Lattimore to tell us about some of the things that influenced The Withdrawing Room.
“My great friend Meg Baird turned me on to Georgia Kelly, a New Age harpist, and I have some of her records from the 1970s and 1980s. Her songs are totally gorgeous and lush and very relaxing and lyrical. She really makes the strings sing to you. I like the idea of these pictures she starts out with—of rain, of Hawaii, of the sea—and then how she improvises musical odes to them.”
“There are some watercolors by Paul Jenkins that really match how I wanted the record to sound. I found this book of his paintings in this bookstore in L.A. and I fell in love with them. I became pen pals with his widow, Suzanne, and she told me that Paul liked to say, “You have to have the will to be vulnerable.” He would kind of guide the paint with an ivory knife rather than brushes, but ultimately let the paint and water take him where he thought he might want to go, ending up with these deluxe colors elegantly bleeding into one another. Maybe my classical harp training is my ivory knife, where the more you know your instrument from hours in a practice room, the freer and weirder you can get with it.”
“Playing music with Fursaxa, Tara Burke’s project, and cellist Helena Espvall, really influenced the record. We’re all very close, so playing with them is just like having a great conversation, just very natural and easy to get into the zone. They both really inspire me.”
“I love the record by Julianna Barwick, The Magic Place, that came out in 2011. Very pretty ethereal layers—a one-person choir.”
“I ripped this picture out of a magazine of this room that I thought was lovely: James McNeill Whistler’s “Peacock Room,” which was moved to the Freer Gallery in DC. I love the way the room looks, especially in this picture, although I’ve never seen it in person. Originally, I made the record wanting it to be music to draw to—tto sit by yourself while doing something really creative, and then letting these long songs take you somewhere else. So I wanted to call it Music to Draw To, like [Brian Eno's] Music For Airports. My friend Damon, after I showed him this picture, thought to look up the definition of “Drawing Room,” which apparently derived from “Withdrawing Room,” a place to withdraw for more privacy and quietness. So he came up with the title of the record, The Withdrawing Room, and hopefully people might hide out, listen to it, and draw something cool.”

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