Published Oct 07, 2020What Mary Lattimore has done with the harp is something to behold. Through looping, prowess and an experimental spirit, the Los Angeles-based harpist crafts evocative and breathtaking worlds that revel in moods, melodies and contrasts.
Lattimore has released several solo and collaborative collections to date, not including playing on recordings by artists like Kurt Vile, Marissa Nadler, Hop Along and Sharon Van Etten. For her newest outing, Silver Ladders, Lattimore worked with Slowdive's Neil Halstead, who produced the album and contributes guitar. And while this is not officially a collaborative piece, Halstead's artistic touch is notable.
"Pine Trees" opens Silver Ladders beautifully with light harp strums that are cast into haunting layered melodies. Humming bass and slow-rolling waves of synth fill out the space. Then, Lattimore comes into the foreground, gleaming overtop it all, and as everything began, it fades away. At almost 10-and-a-half minutes, longest track "Til A Mermaid Drags You Under" is a slow burner with deep and billowing tones, Halstead's shadowy figures floating and Lattimore's flittering shards of light shining through the miasma. "Don't Look," opens with Lattimore's harp moving with restraint before blooming like little bursts of fireworks amongst booming and rattling bass and Halstead's glistening guitar wavering around it all. At times her harp sounds akin to diamond raindrops, creating a timbre that's otherworldly and elegant, as on the swaying and swelling title track and the droning and windblown "Chop on the Climbout."
Low-end synth tones throughout the album provide a melancholy aura that at times is given additional weight from Halstead's dreamy, wistful notes. But together, it all paints an exquisite picture; dramatic worlds that in themselves can evoke vast seas of emotion. Like the sum of life moments, memories or feelings encapsulated in songs, every element with its own purpose. And amongst these parts, Lattimore's harp feels like flickers of hope or revelation, whatever keeps people awake. (Ghostly International)