FRACTURED AIR

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Posts Tagged ‘The Withdrawing Room

Chosen One: Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler

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Interview with Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler.

“Somehow I wanted for us to make something that represented flight, maybe some kind of enlightenment, getting lighter.”

—Mary Lattimore

Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler Press Photos 2014

Earlier this autumn marked the highly-anticipated release of the special collaborative work between Philadephia-based harpist Mary Lattimore and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Zeigler on the prestigious Thrill Jockey label. The debut album, ‘Slant of Light’ is a mesmerising collection of four stunning improvisations, built on the immaculate instrumentation of synthesizer, guitar and harp that seamlessly taps into a divine state of transcendence. An other-worldly feel permeates the rich tapestry of ‘Slant of Light’s sonic canvas as a deep telepathic connection is forged between the gifted duo.

In many ways, the pair’s collaborative work began with 2013’s ‘The Withdrawing Room’ – Lattimore’s debut solo record- which Zeigler recorded and mixed, as well as adding synthesizer parts to the epic ‘You’ll Be Fiiinnne’. ‘Slant of Light’ represents the latest chapter in the pair’s musical journey that continues to explore new sonic terrain; delving wonderfully into realms of folk, ambient and drone soundscapes.

The opening ‘Welsh Corgis In The Snow’ is a slow, meditative lament that contains gorgeous harp arpeggios and gentle pulses of synths, resulting in a haven of celestial sounds. A drone infused ambient opus unfolds with each sacred note. ‘The White Balloon’ immediately transports me back to cult singer-songwriter Ed Askew’s ‘For The World’ album (a record Lattimore collaborated on) as a timeless folk gem ascends into the atmosphere. The voice of Askew feels just a heartbeat away. The synthesizer parts become more pronounced on the record’s part B, particularly on ‘Echo Sounder’. The closing ‘Tomorrow Is A Million’ explores deeper into sonic experimentation as an eerie feel exudes from the scintillating soundscapes.

Both artist’s highly collaborative pasts forms a trajectory to many of the indispensable records of the U.S independent music scene. Lattimore has recorded with Kurt Vile, Meg Baird, Steve Gunn, Ed Askew, Sharon Van Etten, to name but a few after years of touring with Thurston Moore. Zeigler has played with members of Chris Forsyth’s Solar Motel Band, The War On Drugs and A Sunny Day In Glasgow in his group Arc In Round. In addition, Zeigler is the much-sought-after recording engineer in the heart of the Philadelphia music scene, recording for artists such as Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, Nothing and Purling Hiss.

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Interview with Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler.

Congratulations on the wonderful collaborative project. ‘Slant of Light’ is a really special record that that transports you to a magical realm of treasured sounds. On your own solo record “The Withdrawing Room”, Jeff is also present on the recording sessions so it feels very natural (and fitting) that this duo has been officially formed. Firstly, please discuss the collaborative process between you both and how you have developed such a deep understanding of each other’s music? Has the process changed in any way between ‘The Withdrawing Room’ and ‘Slant of Light’?

Mary Lattimore: Jeff recorded ‘The Withdrawing Room’ and played synth on the first piece and we’ve been playing together since then, realizing that we really like improvising together. With ‘The Withdrawing Room’, I was playing, he was in the control room playing, with the door between us closed. I asked him to add a few things, just experimenting to hear how different sounds could enhance the harp record. He played synth, but it didn’t feel like a collaboration like this one is. ‘Slant of Light’ was recorded after lots of shows and some travelling together, so it feels more conversational and informed. It’s still an experiment, but we’re more comfortable with each other and know how to react to where the melody is being taken. This time we were in the same room!

Jeff Zeigler: The first time I worked with Mary was on the day that we began recording ‘The Withdrawing Room’. The vibe was really low key and she asked me if I’d like to play on one of the pieces and I just tried to add an extra level of atmosphere and reinforce what she was already doing without stepping on it — it was a really effortless first collaboration, so I think we both felt that it made a lot of sense to continue in that fashion. The process changed really significantly after we wrote our score for ‘Le Revelateur’ — up until that point I had focusing more on texture and atmosphere than melodies, which was one angle, and definitely made everything a bit more droney and hypnotic, but when it came time to write instead of free improvise, it seemed to make far more sense to focus on creating memorable haunting melodies that glued together the harp and textural elements. So yes, the process has changed significantly on my end.

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In terms of the compositions, how much of the new music is borne from improvisation? On ‘Slant of Light’ to me, there seems to be an equal balance between experimentation and meticulous song-craft (representing the closing half and opening half, respectively!)

ML: You know, none of this one was really composed either. We just sat down, I thought of a little opening part, Jeff figured out the key, we were just going for it. The pieces are all first or second takes. They do feel a little more song-y, but it’s all just ideas that we were just feeling out in the moment, trapped in Jeff’s studio during this huge snowstorm for two days. I think the time of year really affected how the ideas were coming to us in those few days, with no light distractions of a lovely summer, just sloshing through the relentless, endless winter of 2014.

JZ: The album is essentially all improvised aside from ‘The White Balloon’. Mary or I would start playing something, the other person would join in, and then we’d jam it out for an unspecified amount of time.  Afterwards, we’d usually discuss it for a minute, maybe figure out a few different things to try or talk about the structure and then try a second take. I don’t think any of the pieces on the album, aside from ‘The White Balloon’, made it past a third take before we were satisfied with the results.

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I feel part B is more improvised-based but certainly the first two tracks seem to have been mapped out before the sessions took place. The opening ‘Welsh Corgis In The Snow’ is such a beautiful title and I love how the gentle arpeggio of harp notes blend effortlessly with the synth pulses. I would love for you to talk me through this particular harp-based composition, Mary? What are your memories of writing this piece of music? 

ML: I wish I could say that I put lots of brain-effort into the composition, but really, I think all of the songs came directly from our human hearts! Haha. I thought of the beginning part and then where it would go, with those low notes in a chorus, and then just started slowing everything down and Jeff did too. It was an intense few days – I packed a bag and spent the night in the studio where Jeff lives, as more heavy snow was expected. The next morning, we’d found out that a friend had passed away and I feel like all of the elements were there to translate some feelings, making something that marks a point in time for both of us. Jeff will be happy to hear that you like the title! He made it up! Jeff and his cute dog Baxter like winter and I’m glad he gave it a cheerier title than something goth-y I would’ve given it. I’m from the south and I go real darkside when it’s cold!

JZ: The track starts with my Korg Mono/Poly slowly fading in and droning. My whole setup is going through a Roland Space Echo tape delay, and I’m making slight adjustments to the rate of the delay by hand, which creates a woozy, seasick feel by minutely altering the pitch of the synth drone. Mary starts playing on top of that, and in another minute or so I add an octave up pitch shift, which opens up the sound, and then I start looping and layering the synth and Mary begins adding in tweaked-out harp delays. I honestly don’t remember what’s going on with acoustic strumming noises that you can hear in the room. I think I may have been playing a psaltery and just strumming it open somewhat randomly? The track becomes a bit more static around the 4 minute mark and both Mary and I are tweaking our pedals. At 4:15 or so introduce a melody on processed melodica that I continue playing and looping for the next few minutes. Elements then gradually strip away until you’re left with the initial drone and the new melodica melody, and the track fades out on the Mono/Poly drone.

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Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler Press Photos 2014

Mary, you have been involved in an endless array of utterly compelling collaborations, having recorded and performed with Kurt Vile, Meg Baird, Ed Askew, Steve Gunn and Thurston Moore to name but a few. These projects must be so rewarding and fulfilling to be part of. How do these collaborations feed its way into your own music and music-making process? Are there certain parallels you see that exist between these collaborations? Can you shed some light please on what collaborative works will next see the light of day?

ML: I love both collaborating and contributing to other people’s songs, writing parts. It’s fun to see how people you admire work, to see behind the curtain, to be a part of the process. For me, it doubles the magic of it, when you get to see the human trial-and-error, the scrapping something, and the million takes, and the finally getting it. I love the sitting around listening to what somebody else is doing, listening back to your overdubbed part, and trying it again but up an octave, listening back, over and over. On my own record and for this duo one, it’s a totally different process, where it’s all exorcism and improvisation, but I also love the perfectionism of working on someone’s thought-about song, and witnessing the deliberate series of choices that are being made. All the little choices, capturing a vibe and sharpening a song. Working on the new Steve Gunn record was a total feelgood delight, up at Black Dirt in upstate New York. The musicians were next level, a solid group of talented people. I just had the pleasure of making a harp and koto record with this friend Maxwell August Croy. It’ll be out next year. That one was improvised.

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Jeff, as a recording engineer you have recorded albums for musical luminaries such as The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Nothing and Purling Hiss. I would love to gain an insight into this aspect of your work. Are there certain rules or beliefs you abide by and stick by when recording? Also, I would love to know how early in life did your fascination with sound begin? Can you pin-point the moment you realized music would be the path for you to follow?

JZ: There are certain sounds and techniques that I gravitate towards, and people tend to come to me for that aesthetic, but to not break your own rules every once in awhile would be pretty limiting and counter-productive. I guess what generally appeals to me is what’s fairly evident on ‘Slant of Light’— a combination of the organic and the inorganic helping to create a unique and somewhat unidentifiable space. I’m a huge fan of luring people in with a familiar sound and then “enhancing” it in such a way that either accentuates its’ beauty or warps it in such a way that creates a sense of unease. Or maybe takes you to a place that’s less literal place then the elements suggest on their own.

I think the point at which I realized that there was no turning back was when I began playing guitar again in college and would borrow the school’s 4-track cassette recorder and just experiment with different recording techniques and unintentionally started incorporating a lot of “concrete” techniques into my songwriting, making the two somewhat permanently intertwined in my mind.

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‘The White Balloon’ is yet another stunning tour-de-force. The music evokes moods and colours in much the same way a beautiful landscape painting would create. I imagine the voice of Ed Askew will appear at any moment during the meditative harp passages- returning nicely to a previous collaboration of yours with  ‘For The World’. What are your memories of writing this particular piece of music?

ML: This song was created with my friend in mind, the one who’d passed away. I’d just seen these photos:

http://www.theparisreview.org/art-photography/5839/airship-lena-herzog-graham-dorrington

A photograph from photographer Lena Herzog and aeronaut Graham Dorrington’s sketchbook ‘Airship.’ The series details Dorrington’s dream of “pure, silent, slow flight over the jungle treetops,” which was documented in Werner Herzog’s film The White Diamond. (Paris Review)

Somehow I wanted for us to make something that represented flight, maybe some kind of enlightenment, getting lighter. I love Jeff’s playing on it. My Granny had also just died, too, so I think the piece was kind of influenced by recent ghosts of beautiful people. There’s a really nice music video for it, created the wonderful Naomi Yang (www.naomivision.com) and it was shot in my hometown, Asheville NC, at my Granny’s cabin.

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The cover painting is by Philadelphia-based artist Becky Suss, whose stunningly beautiful work also graces the sleeve of ‘The Withdrawing Room’. Please talk me through the concept of this artwork and indeed your fascination with her work? It’s so very distinctive and unique, I’m very glad to have come across her work through your music. 

ML: Becky is so talented!! She is amazing. Her work on both covers has gotten so many compliments and I feel really fortunate that she’s been so generous. I think the worlds match well, hers and mine/mine and Jeff’s. They just make sense together. A lot of her paintings are of rooms of her grandparents’ house. The style reminds me so much of a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright house or something. Nature, collections and treasures, clean shiny big windows, weird sculptures, thoughtful and layered memories of an empty house – I feel like I can smell what the house smells like just looking at them. It was, sadly, demolished and she’s painted from her memory of it. Her website is www.beckysuss.net. The best.

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Please discuss the current music scene in Philadelphia, Mary? What a time it is right now with the likes of The War On Drugs – as ever – going from strength to strength.

ML: My friend Kathryn just put on the greatest event of the summer, the second Kensington Picnic. All of the buddies from the neighborhood came out and lots of good genius friends played –  Laura Baird, Fursaxa, Randall of Nazareth, Spacin, Hohlraum, Strapping Fieldhands, the amazing Birds of Maya, and Jeff and I played too. We have a great community in Philly. Our great pals Purling Hiss have a record coming out on the same day as ours. Yeah, War on Drugs are killing, Kurt Vile and those guys are gonna be working on a new one, Chris Forsyth and his Solar Motel band are always awesome, Jeff is working on a great solo record, Watery Love are gonna be playing the night before my birthday, so that’ll be a treat. Feel lucky to know a ton of sincerely creative, driven people and it all feels really supportive.

JZ: Philadelphia’s music scene is pretty insane right now! There are so many great bands and artists working on so many different fronts and it makes me really happy. There’s generally a ton of support and positivity and a bunch of different scenes that exist outside of each other but still tend to cross-pollinate to some extent. There are some exciting newer bands — Amanda X, White Lighters and Myrrias spring to mind, and also a bunch of lifers like Chris Forsyth, Purling Hiss, Kurt Vile, the War on Drugs guys, etc that are just doing what they do and have been for ages because it’s their thing. I think the fact that Philly is still relatively cheap and very central just draws a lot of people to it who have a common purpose. It’s getting increasingly gentrified, which worries me, but I think we’re safe from getting as soulless as New York has for at least a few decades.

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Jeff, your band Arc In Round creates such a mesmerising wall of sound. Please discuss the inception of this band and plans for an upcoming release?

JZ: Thank you! We are unfortunately on a semi-permanent hiatus. I’m currently recording an amazing LP for Myrrias, the new band of Mikele Edwards, who was the other creative half of Arc in Round, and I’m in the process of finishing up a solo LP that’s sort of in line with the AiR material, but aside from the occasional show and possibly a loose album of extended improvised music I don’t foresee us doing much. I should have this new as-yet-unnamed project up and running in the Spring and am also currently working on a beat and sound design-heavy record that will probably include some pretty great Philly rappers on it too.

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Last December, the both of you performed a live score for Philippe Garrel’s 1968 film ‘Le Revelateur’ in Marfa, TX. Can you please recount your memories of this particular night? What is the process and experience like when performing a live score to a film? Do you have plans to do this again in the near future? I hope you and Jeff tour this new record of yours, before too long.

ML: Yeah, we definitely have plans to tour! We played the score with the film in Philly and Chicago in September. We’ve been on tour with Steve Gunn for the first two weeks of October, which has been real cool, but not with the film.

We were asked to compose and perform a score for a silent film for Marfa’s annual event that happens around New Year’s Eve. Jeff and I got together and wrote some themes that corresponded with images and scenes, with bits of improvisation connecting the themes. The film is very beautiful and strange, intentionally silent, but we were able to get Garrel’s blessing. I’d never been to Marfa before (Jeff had been there with his band Arc in Round) and so it was such a treat to check out that little town in a new part of the country.

Saw my first shooting stars out there!! It worked out really well, I think, and we’re looking forward to diving into the film again and getting reacquainted with the music we wrote.

JZ: It was amazing! Nicki Itner and everyone else from Ballroom Marfa are great people and were such a pleasure to work with. It was all a bit of a whirlwind, as it was only the second time we had played along to the film on a large screen instead of a laptop, so it was harder, for me at least, to recognize cues, which was slightly nerve-wracking but once we started everything fell into place pretty naturally. Process-wise, things worked in a manner that’s fairly similar to how we wrote the album: one of us would come up with a part for a scene and the other person would try to enhance it, we would go through the scene, discuss what worked and what else we might be able to do, and then go from there. Since it’s all semi-improvised there’s a bit of wiggle room…..but not much.

 


 

 

Mary Lattimore   Jeff Zeigler - Slant of Light Cover - 374

 

‘Slant Of Light’ is available now on Thrill Jockey Records.

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https://www.facebook.com/lattimorezeiglerduo
http://www.thrilljockey.com

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Fractured Air 06: Keeper Of Beauty (A Mixtape by Mary Lattimore)

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mixtape_marylattimore

To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-06-keeper-of-beauty-a-mixtape-by-mary-lattimore/

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“These are some of my favorites right now!!” (Mary Lattimore)

“The Withdrawing Room” is the debut solo album of Philadelphia harpist, Mary Lattimore. Released earlier this year – limited to three hundred copies on black vinyl – the album draws from the worlds of drone, ambient, folk and world music, creating in turn a gleaming treasure of sacred sonic tapestries. Lattimore’s harp compositions can be compared with Julianna Barwick’s choral-based harmonies, where both artists loop their chosen instrument to magnificent effect. Mary Lattimore has collaborated with a vast array of musicians to date, including Thurston Moore (on his “Demolished Thoughts” LP) and Sharon Van Etten’s forthcoming album and follow-up to 2012’s “Tramp” LP.

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Tracklisting

01. Fleetwood Mac – Prove Your Love
02. Sharon Van Etten – You Didn’t Really Do That
03. Flip & the Dateliners – My Johnny Doesn’t Come Around Anymore
04. Washington Phillips – Lift Him Up That’s All
05. F.J. McMahon – Early Blue
06. Baird Sisters – Tracks
07. Shirley Collins and Albion Country Band – Poor Murdered Woman
08. 13th Floor Elevators – I Had To Tell You
09. Spacin’ – Sunshine No Shoes
10. Watery Love – Face the Door
11. Dead Moon – Fire in the Western World
12. William Onyeabor – Heaven and Hell
13. X Ray Pop – Ding Dong
14. Chance – Just Your Way of Tellin’ Me
15. Fursaxa – Moonlight Sonata
16. Brian Eno – Fullness of Wind
17. Weyes Blood – Romneydale
18. Nils Frahm – Went Missing
19. Ed Askew – Blue Eyed Baby
20. Samara Lubelski – Keeper of Beauty
21. Don Slepian – Awakening

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Track-by-track description by Mary Lattimore:

01. Fleetwood Mac – Prove Your Love
Off of the record with the scary-looking cover: Heroes Are Hard to Find

02. Sharon Van Etten – You Didn’t Really Do That
This is the first song I ever heard Sharon sing and I really like that keyboard part. Had the lovely pleasure of playing harp on her new record and I think she’s the coolest!

03. Flip & the Dateliners – My Johnny Doesn’t Come Around Anymore
From a Joe Meek compilation. I think it sounds really spooky. Ultimately, he killed his landlady.

04. Washington Phillips – Lift Him Up That’s All
I love his voice and his mysterious instrument that doesn’t exist anymore.

05. F.J. McMahon – Early Blue
This is a winter song to listen to in the car.

06. Baird Sisters – Tracks
My best friend Meg and her amazing sister Laura! Meg has solo records and I believe Laura does too. Meg was in the terrific band Espers, too. This song’s good for winter, too.

07. Shirley Collins and Albion Country Band – Poor Murdered Woman
Shirley’s pure, pretty voice makes it even more tragic.

08. 13th Floor Elevators – I Had To Tell You
Got obsessed with Easter Everywhere this summer. I fell for this band late, almost like I was saving the records until I had enough brainspace to become totally smitten. Totally there right now!

09. Spacin’ – Sunshine No Shoes
Summertime good vibes from our neighborhood, Fishtown in Philly.

10. Watery Love – Face the Door
My friend Richie wrote this song about us going for dinner with our friend Max after work.

11. Dead Moon – Fire in the Western World

12. William Onyeabor – Heaven and Hell
So many good, catchy songs on this reissue.

13. X Ray Pop – Ding Dong
Cutesy little 80’s French song that I like.

14. Chance – Just Your Way of Tellin’ Me
Johnny Cash’s stage manager/lighting guy/friend Chance Martin made this weird, wonderful psychedelic country record and the great label Paradise of Bachelors reissued it this year.

15. Fursaxa – Moonlight Sonata
She works at a hawk sanctuary in the mountains and lives right by the river. Fursaxa is my inspiration! Her music is gorgeous and solitary.

16. Brian Eno – Fullness of Wind

17. Weyes Blood – Romneydale
Another great friend from this part of Pennsylvania. Her new record is almost finished. I love this song.

18. Nils Frahm – Went Missing
Another obsession right now. I would love to see/hear him play someday.

19. Ed Askew – Blue Eyed Baby
Ed is a legend and his songs make people weep, they move people. I played harp on this one. Very proud of this record.

20. Samara Lubelski – Keeper of Beauty
A talented friend who’s like family.

21. Don Slepian – Awakening
Got this off of a comp called I Am the Center (Light in the Attic) that just came out. New Age songs for a peaceful atmosphere.

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To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-06-keeper-of-beauty-a-mixtape-by-mary-lattimore/

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For our interview with Mary Lattimore, please click HERE.

“The Withdrawing Room” is out now on Desire Path Recordings.

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http://marylattimore.net
http://www.desirepathrecordings.com

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December 2, 2013 at 11:25 am

Chosen One: Mary Lattimore

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Interview with Mary Lattimore.

“I really love to improvise, at this point, and feel like there is a lot of untapped potential weirdness and beauty that my harp has in it. It’ll take time and playing more and messing around with more pedals, so it’s exciting to be not totally comfortable and satisfied. It’s fun to try to evoke these moods and colors through playing and I wanna get dark with it, and then probably light again.”

—Mary Lattimore

Illustration: Craig Carry, Words: Mark Carry

mlattimore_craigcarry_1

‘The Withdrawing Room’ is the debut solo album of Philadelphia harpist, Mary Lattimore. Released earlier this year – limited to three hundred copies on black vinyl – the album draws from the worlds of drone, ambient, folk and world music, creating in turn a gleaming treasure of sacred sonic tapestries. Lattimore’s harp compositions can be compared with Julianna Barwick’s choral-based harmonies, where both artists loop their chosen instrument to magnificent effect. Much like Barwick’s ‘The Magic Place’, I have found myself revisiting Lattimore’s solo work on endless occasions, during the early morning hours and the quiet still of night. ‘The Withdrawing Room’ is a place to seek solace. A hidden realm is tapped into by Lattimore; evoking the cosmic spirit of Alice Coltrane’s ‘Journey In Satchidananda’ where the cascading notes envelop a myriad of feelings. The music is pure and sacred, just like the beautiful album artwork that graces ‘The Withdrawing Room’. The gorgeous artwork is by Becky Suss, and is entitled ’76 Meadow Woods Road’ (oil on linen). Be removed. Come wander deep inside the stunning harp song-cycles, where you indeed become withdrawn from the world outside your window, and transported to an entire ‘other’ place.

At the heart of ‘The Withdrawing Room’ is a beautiful collaboration between like-minded souls – Lattimore, armed with her beloved harp and line 6 looper; and Jeff Zeigler who recorded and mixed the album, as well as playing synthesizer on opening 24-minute piece ‘You’ll Be Fiiinnne’. The music is largely improvized and amazingly, the recording took merely one afternoon to complete. The song ‘You’ll Be Fiiinnne’ is simply breathtaking. The experimental and digital wizardry of Zeigler blends effortlessly with Lattimore’s rich acoustic sounds of clean harp notes and shape-shifting tones. The result is something enchanting, otherworldly, and utterly unique. The track conjures up the sound of Rodion G.A. – an artist I have only recently discovered these past few months – whose primitive makeshift set-up of early drum machines, Tesla reel to reels, and live instruments reveals a sacred treasure that has been unheard and unreleased for over thirty years. ‘The Withdrawing Room’ similarly inhabits a certain space and time that is ultimately something transcendental. As Lattimore has said of the recording session: “We slipped into a different zone.”

Lattimore has long been synonymous with the independent music scene, long before the arrival of her solo full-length player. Previous collaborations have included luminaries such as Thurston Moore, Meg Baird, Kurt Vile, Ed Askew, Fursaxa, and Jarvis Cocker. I feel the folk song tradition is embedded throughout the stunning piece, ‘Pluto The Planet’, which follows the blissful – near-mythical – sound clouds of ‘You’ll Be Fiiinne’. Across sixteen minutes, bewitching arpeggios of harp chords resonate deeply into one’s consciousness. The slow and resonating tones float in the air’s atmosphere that becalms all that surrounds you. A cathartic effect radiates from the ambient tour de force. Some time later – what feels a lifetime – the harp sounds slowly meanders to a state of completion. The river below has found its sea. The skies above have formed a perfect blue. The closing gem, ‘Poor Daniel’ feels like a lullaby to safely guide you to sleep. The meditative tones serves as a remedy to soothe all of life’s pain and troubles.

File alongside Virginia Astley’s ‘From Gardens Where We Feel Secure’, Julianna Barwick’s ‘The Magic Place’ and all records pure and divine. ‘The Withdrawing Room’ never ceases to amaze.

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‘The Withdrawing Room’ is out now on Desire Path Recordings.

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mlattimore_craigcarry_2

Interview with Mary Lattimore.

Congratulations on your truly inspiring debut work, ‘The Withdrawing Room’. Your harp compositions are steeped in gorgeous beauty that transports you to a whole new dimension. A work of true art and beauty. I would love for you to discuss please the recording of this album?

Thank you so much, Mark. I appreciate the lovely compliment. The recording of it was pretty simple and just took an afternoon. I brought my harp over to Jeff’s studio (Uniform Recording) and just improvised for a few hours. Nothing was really sketched out and it was very casual. I think we had some champagne. It was last year at the end of winter. I think we slipped into a different zone, too, while we were working on it. We definitely lost track of time and the songs came out pretty long!

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My current favourite is ‘You’ll Be Fiiinnne’. I love how the subtle electronics by Jeff Zeigler blend so effortlessly with your harp sounds. The piece is utterly transcendent–all 24 minutes. There is this ebb and flow to the piece that feels so natural, like the air you breathe. Please discuss this song and the collaborative aspect of making music that you and Jeff tap into so wonderfully?

Oh, awesome. That one was the first one we worked on. Jeff has recorded a lot of friends and is known around here for having a great ear and a great musical brain, so I’m grateful that he agreed to play because he really enhanced this song and made it more interesting. One of my favorite parts is when I’m taking this 9 volt battery and scraping the low wire strings creepily and he is matching that sound and playing off of it. These days, Jeff and I play shows together and have gotten to the point where we both feel creative and conversational when improvising. Feels like it’s only getting better. We’re good friends.

I think, as far as the ebb and flow goes, the arc of the song, I see it like a little narrative, like a story where things get hectic and disturbed and then come back around and all’s okay. Jeff was ready to take it there with me, so I think I found the perfect person to work with.

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Please take me back to your earliest memories of playing the harp? When did you start playing this instrument and what is it about the harp that gravitated you towards it?

My mom is a harpist, so I’ve been around them my whole life. My earliest memory of playing, I guess, was in my first lesson when I was 11. I wasn’t fully into it until later, though, because I’d get frustrated and bored and feel lame. My teacher in high school was really wonderful, though, and encouraging and I went to a couple of summer music camps where I met some cool friends that were really into being part of orchestras. It was a lucky foundation to be given, the lessons and I also went to music conservatory, so having that training is something I don’t take for granted. But I only started to really feel connected with the harp after I got to know it better, after a few years of practicing it. It took awhile for it to sink in that it was really my thing.

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While listening to your music, I feel the same spell is cast upon me that Julianna Barwick’s album ‘The Magic Place’ renders. So many layers of enchanting sounds create this mesmerising tapestry of sound. Is this a record you are familiar with? (I’m sure it is!) If so, please discuss why you love her music?

I love that record! I actually wrote her a fan email. Haha. Cool compliment!! I like the idea of a one-woman choir and focused, happy solitude, painting a mood by yourself in a room. I really like those Grouper records, too, so much. Would love to see them both play live.

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Discuss the possibilities that improvisation brings in your music?

I really love to improvise, at this point, and feel like there is a lot of untapped potential weirdness and beauty that my harp has in it. It’ll take time and playing more and messing around with more pedals, so it’s exciting to be not totally comfortable and satisfied. It’s fun to try to evoke these moods and colors through playing and I wanna get dark with it, and then probably light again.

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What albums or artists have inspired you the most in your music?

I’m really inspired by friends and people I’ve played with – Fursaxa (Tara Burke), Helena Espvall, a great cellist, Meg Baird my best pal, Samara Lubelski, who’s like a sister. They all have beautiful, elegant records, both with other people and solo. I love this piece by Gorecki, the 3rd Symphony. I love Brian Eno and the Cure, Om, Blues Control, and Growing’s earlier records. Getting to know Thurston M. and Kim G. and seeing how they play music, totally unencumbered by dumb self-doubt, just totally free, has been really inspiring. Can’t wait for Watery Love’s new record. My old roommate Daniel Bachman is great at the guitar and would play all the time, a testament to practicing and working hard by yourself. Close friends from Rochester, Andy Gilmore and Jason Schulmerich, sit alone and draw and what comes out is detailed, sometimes-strange, perfect art. Lots of creative people close to my heart.

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The artwork by Becky Suss beautifully encapsulates the music wrapped inside. The vinyl is a work of art. It must be a wonderful feeling for you when you see your work being represented by artwork such as this? A celebration of the awe-inspiring music you have created.

Becky is sooo talented. It IS a wonderful feeling! I can’t believe she let me use her painting. She later told me that the room in it is actually her grandfather’s living room and he’d just passed away when she painted it, so there’s that loss there, but the trees outside seem to be so comforting, along with all of his collection. I imagine that the room smells like old books and a Frank Lloyd Wright cool glass, dark wood smell. The painting is actually huge, gigantic.

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You have collaborated with many indie-rock greats such as Thurston Moore and Kurt Vile to name but a few. How does the collaborative side of your work feed into your own music?

I think writing harp parts that have a complementary melody is really fun, fitting together the instruments like puzzle pieces. Just focusing on melody and creating a line and I think that carries over to what I’m trying to do solo, to always indulge the ghost of a melody even when its hidden in noise.

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What is next for you, Mary? I hope you come play in Ireland sometime soon?

I would love to play in Ireland. I love Ireland so much. It’s the prettiest. Would love to see more of it and to travel all around and see the coast.

Next, I’m playing a couple of shows around here with Jeff, one at a contemporary art museum. I got asked to score a silent film in Marfa, Texas in the distant future (December), so stoked on that. Jeff and I will work on a duo record this year. Playing keyboard with this new band Mild Time. A good friend Rosali and I are jamming in June and our band’s called Ghost Ship. Her voice is gorgeous. Should be a good year!

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‘The Withdrawing Room’ is out now on Desire Path Recordings. The limited edition vinyl can be ordered here. 

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http://marylattimore.net
http://www.desirepathrecordings.com

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Written by admin

September 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm