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Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler
Slant Of Light Brendan Telford , October 21st, 2014 09:02

The meeting of artistic minds is a delicate endeavour, fraught with burgeoning expectation and hubris. Collaborations can often mesh in a superfluous manner, an exercise where artists with clearly-defined creative processes try to shoehorn their efforts into an ill-fitting form. The higher profile the artists, the harder it is to wipe the slate clean, to create something essentially "new".

Slant Of Light is a different matter, as both participants are adept at blending into the tapestry of others' grand visions. Mary Lattimore is a harpist, mastering an oft-overlooked instrument in the rock milieu and melding her gossamer flourishes to the blueprints of songs by artists as varied as Kurt Vile and Wreckmeister Harmonies. Jeff Ziegler (whose band Arc In Round focused on combining layers of effects and dissonance to craft a wellspring of melody) has added the production gloss to albums such as Nothing's Guilty Of Everything and The War On Drugs' Lost In The Dream - alongside more guttural excursions from the likes of Lantern and Purling Hiss. And in many ways it is this apparent disparity that makes Slant Of Light, a suite of sonic sojourns built from various incarnations of improvised jams, such a self-deprecating and elegant exploration of space and form. There are no egos here; there is no jostling for centre stage. If anything, Ziegler's role is as it is when producing albums – to provide the foundation for Lattimore's compositions to find flight, his synthesised undercurrents providing the slipstream for the notes of plucked strings to course along.

Opener 'Welsh Corgis In The Snow' could almost be a score to such a montage – a light, almost quaint, lilting series of moments that informs and creates sonic images, and showcases the aural linguistics the pair converse in. It's an almost lysergic ambience on display, taking its time in coalescing into focus, much like watching the filtered, slow-motion footage of canines dancing through snowdrifts that the title evokes. The title and song entwine on another level too, as the aqueous nature of Ziegler's effects providing a cool tone for Lattimore's warm brushstrokes to wash over the top. This juxtaposition of coolness and warmth, frigidity and hope, permeates the elegant 'The White Balloon' also – the loops more pronounced, the digital wash more organic in response. The brevity of the track – it is four minutes shorter than the other three songs on offer – lends it a stronger focus, making it the most immediate track almost by default.

But the last two songs on Slant Of Light take a sweeping glide into introspection, the ambient soundscapes internalised before shattering the senses. 'Echo Sounder' sees Ziegler flood the canvas, providing a pulsing swoon that Lattimore waltzes in and out of – a gentle crescendo that gently coaxes and caresses. 'Tomorrow Is A Million' counters these eloquent sojourns with an experiential battleground of pulses and groans, both artists eschewing the eloquent histrionics of what's come before for plucking, discordant murmurs and anxious transgressions. A noise collage of tetchy unease, the eleven minute closer evokes an improvised and progressive air, deliberately distancing itself from the cocoon they have artfully created. Strings are tightened to breaking point; notes are bent, echoed, spiralled back in on themselves. It's a disturbingly disarming piece that foreshadows the potential that this duo may approach in what has proven to be a fruitful alliance.

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