While drawing inspiration from the work of electronics pioneer Steve Reich (specifically Music For 18 Musicians, as exemplified by the pulsing cyclical patterns of Super Nature), the new album by Dunfermline-based Lyth is an all acoustic affair, albeit one of a rather rarified nature.
A sound designer by day, he’s crafted an exploration of the relationship between music and environment that’s constructed from a wide variety of sourced sound fragments, some recorded in the open air at places as diverse as Uganda, Morocco and Glasgow, overlaid by minimal piano, plaintive vocals and the occasional use of melancholic strings and muted brass.
Folk music at its core, the album opens with All My Love, a delicate musing on becoming a father that veins its lyrics with mythological imagery while building a collage of birdsong, accordion, cello and horns, before moving on to Four Creatures which, written from the perspective of someone living in Syria (Lyth was born in the Middle East), enfolds Islamic and Christian imagery within its moodily percussive jazz ambience.
The album named after the deep sea communication cables (specifically referenced on How It Happened), it’s little surprise to find communication and connection a prevalent theme, running through such numbers as the pensive Earth Broke Its Vow and the jittery Standing Start, the latter’s handclaps recorded at a Western Ugandan market.
Backed by sparse piano and opening with what sounds like the sea, the intimate This Time In November is relatively traditional in form and lyric, but otherwise the album conjures what might result from a cross-fertilisation of Radiohead and The Fence Collective, an ambitious, intellectual, art-music project, but with a real beating heart at its core.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released by Armellodie Records, Out now