L’Altra CD review {Aethetics]

Music Reviews
L'Altra CD review {Aethetics]
May 14, 2002, 01:06

L'ALTRA In The Afternoon CD

Music of this stripe—moody, chamber-rocque—always verges on Angst-lite, and in the wrong hands, can vault deeply into such terrain. L'Altra are—happily—the right hands.

Whilst all these pieces move at a measured pace and the instrumental tones deployed are all hushed and noir-like throughout, L'Altra inject sufficient substance and grit to make for satisfying, arresting listening.

Their sound starts with a gentle, yet not merely frothy, basket weave of piano, muted electric guitar arpeggios, brushed drums and unobtrusive, supportive bass. This is notably abetted by plangent woodwinds, flutes and such, that drift in and out of the picture like cirrus clouds punctuating a sunny sky.

Singers Lindsay and Joseph Arthur—sister and brother in fact—have lovely voices that they keep tightly reined in, affecting a consciously reserved tone, further muted by an air of resignation. They also maintain a certain raw looseness. For all the beauty of their harmonizing, it never waxes treacle-y. As you'd expect the tunes are writ swankly lush, as per overall melodic themes and individual chords' structure.

In The Afternoon would make the perfect soundtrack music to passion plays 'bout rueful regret, meditations on loss and the like respectively. There's a lot of music like this coming out of Chicago these days and most not as meaty as this. In fact if L'Altra played a single note one bit sweeter, tighter, or more pat then the whole thing would lapse right into mere-dom. But they never do fall off the tight rope and more power to 'em. [Aesthetics]

-Howard W.

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