Last week Low Praises released another tome in their long-distance bedroom collaboration. The project is comprised of two sonic night-miners, Neil Lord (Future Museums) and Jimmy Spice (Liquid Skulls), who respectively reside in Austin and Little Rock, and specialize in a form of ambient drift, somewhere between psychedelic drone, new age music and minimal techno. In line with their previous efforts, Mystery Lanterns is a slowburner of a record that’s evocative of the fluctuating processes of the human organism.
The first track of the release ALWAYS A HELL comes on hot with a high-attack, dusty tribal drum pattern beating like a war gong. The EP never rests any one place too long though, shifting back and forth from driving to delicate, starry-eyed to unsettling. The timbre of the guitar tone gets contorted and diffused to the point where it’s impossible to distinguish it from the cool array synths and abrasive textures scraping at the mix. The mixing is playful and exploratory; sizzling high frequencies levitate right above the surface, resembling the thin hum of resonating crystal glass. Vocal textures float in and out like the murmurs of the adults in a Charles Schultz universe, unintelligible, befuddled. The EP is guiding us beyond verbal patterns of existence to a plane as subterranean as its artwork suggests.
In the liner notes of Music for Airports, Eno wrote that “Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” This statement points out the subliminal power that ambient music has to touch the evasive parts of the psyche with or without the complicity of the listener; Mystery Lanterns follows this archetype as a work crafted with a careful consideration of our subconscious. As such, it deviates from new age music though its inclusion of dissonance and tones of eeriness and anxiety. BURN HAND holds a brooding, cloudy-headed tension in the murk of its synth wash and tape hiss. BROKEN SPECTRE starts off bubbly then intensifies until its shimmering under-layers almost become searing. The presence of these unsettling moments serve to emphasize an overarching mood of cleansing and balance. If you got some calcified tension and you’re seeking release, Mystery Lanterns is by all means a good listen to vibe out to the frequencies of some crystals, cultivate pranayama, and compliment your sun salutations or your downward dogs. But don’t let that exclude the attentive listen, there’s a lot to discover buried within its intricate geological folds.
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