|Lilies On Mars — Dot to Dot (2014)|
Lilies On Mars — Dot to Dot
♦♦ Matter, Its waves and radiation create sounds that enthrall. Inspired by this, we play music looking up.
♦♦ Led by a pair of old friends hailing from Sardinia, Lilies on Mars makes adventurous dream pop akin to Blonde Redhead and Au Revoir Simone.
Location: Cagliari, Sardinia ~ London, England, United Kingdom
Album release: February 11, 2014
Record Label: Saint Marie Records
01 See You Sun 4:12
02 Dream of Bees 3:08
03 Side ABCD 5:27
04 No Way 3:17
05 Entre-Temps 2:34
06 Oceanic Landscape 3:21
07 Interval, Pt. 1 1:10
08 Impossible Child 3:27
09 So Far Dear America 3:46
10 Interval, Pt. 2 1:00
11 Sugar Is Gone 4:31
12 For the First 3 Years 3:41
13 Martians 3:06
Members: Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo
Album Moods: Calm/Peaceful Delicate Dreamy Gentle Intimate Atmospheric Bittersweet Brooding Ethereal Nocturnal Restrained Soothing Warm Reflective Sentimental Wistful Laid-Back/Mellow
Themes: Late Night Stay in Bed Introspection Reflection
♦♦ Having ended 2013 on a high with the release of Orange Yellow Red's A Rose Made of Galaxies and Scarlet Youth's The Everchanging View, Saint Marie Records appears intent on maintaining the high level of those two with its first album of the new year, Lilies On Mars' stellar Dot to Dot. It's not the maiden voyage by Lilies On Mars' Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo, however, as the duo previously issued an eponymously titled debut in 2008 and Wish You Were a Pony in 2011. A late-2013 teaser offered a foretaste of the new album in the form of a three-track EP featuring the group's “Dream of Bees” accompanied by two remixes, one an audacious classical-styled makeover by cellist Julia Kent.
♦♦ The forty-three-minute album receives a significant boost from the powerful drumming of Valentina Magaletti, while Masia and Cristofalo beef up Lilies On Mars' multi-layered sound with electric guitars, vintage organs, and synthesizers. The head-spinning “Dream of Bees” sounds as magnificent in the album context as on the EP, especially when the song comes wrapped in a production treatment that intensifies the music's psychedelic-shoegaze swirl. The trippy vibe carries over into “SIDE ABCD,” which sees an organ and wordless vocals swooning in a state of blissed-out delirium, and “So Far Dear America,” which alternates between episodes of seductive serenity and hard-charging guitar dissonance. Elsewhere, “No Way” oozes a warm, ‘60s pop vibe, and Masia and Cristofalo mix things up by stitching two experimental instrumental vignettes (“Interval 1” and “Interval 2”) in amongst the songs.
♦♦ “Entre-Temps” and “Oceanic Landscapes” suggest that Broadcast, Cocteau Twins, and Stereolab might be considered kindred spirits to the London-based, Sardinian outfit, with all of them intent on filling the air with ethereal, retro-futurist dreampop. ♦♦ One detail bears worth emphasizing: Lilies On Mars' songs are more pop than shoegaze, even if a tinge of the latter is present in the album's hazy production design. ♦♦ Regardless, the group's music sounds good whether filling the room at maximum volume or flooding one's ears via headphones; if anything, the latter might be the best way to listen to Dot to Dot given that all the nuances and instrumental touches are better able to be heard when the thirteen songs are listened to up close. (http://www.textura.org/)
Review by Heather Phares | Score: ***½
♦♦ Lilies on Mars aren’t as well-known as a group that has collaborated with artists as diverse and prominent in their fields as Fennesz and Franco Battiato could be, but Dot to Dot might change that. On the band’s third album, Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo craft a set of songs that are significantly more polished than 2008's self-titled debut and 2011's Wish You Were a Pony (by Victoria Williams, 18 May 2011: Score: 8/10 :: http://exystence.net/blog/2014/02/21/lilies-on-mars-dot-to-dot-2014/#more-133454). Both of those albums contrasted awkwardness and beauty with a particular — and peculiar — charm, but here they give the haze of their earlier work more focus.
♦♦ New drummer Valentina Magaletti plays a major part in this, helping tracks like “See You Sun” feel as much like adventures as pop songs and providing a loping backbone for Masia and Cristofalo’s flights of fancy, which seem to use dream logic to determine where to go next. By contrast, “Dream of Bees” casts an enveloping haze that gives the feeling that the song is about to achieve liftoff at any moment. Here and throughout Dot to Dot, the trio delivers multifaceted and often fascinating dream pop that recalls many of the style’s greats. “Impossible Child” boasts spun-sugar soprano vocals reminiscent of Lush’s Miki Berenyi, “No Way”‘s luminous keyboards and ’60s pop-inspired beat evoke Broadcast, and “Sugar Is Gone”‘s eerie longing underscores why Blonde Redhead is one of the band’s main influences. Fortunately, while it may be easy to point out Lilies on Mars’ roots, the way they express those sounds never feels too obvious or like a hodgepodge of other people’s ideas. Elsewhere on Dot to Dot, Lilies on Mars prove they have plenty of ideas of their own: they warm up “Side ABCD”‘s wintry pop with sighing choruses, bring the drama with “Oceanic Landscape,” a duet with longtime collaborator Battiato, and show they haven’t lost any of their experimentalism with more abstract moments like “Martians.” Dot to Dot isn’t just about connecting the dots within Lilies on Mars’ sound; it also shows that the band is becoming more versatile and eloquent with each release.
Artist Biography by Heather Phares
♦♦ Crafting adventurous dream pop reminiscent of Blonde Redhead and Au Revoir Simone, Lilies on Mars is the project of Sardinians Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo, a pair of old friends and multi-instrumentalists who moved to London in the 2000s to pursue their musical career. Experiences like collaborating with Franco Battiato on various film and music projects and creating a tribute show for David Lynch inspired them to form Lilies on Mars, and they released their self-titled debut album in 2008. ♦♦ Along with performing with Battiato and on their own, Masia and Cristofalo welcomed former Sunny Day Sets Fire member Matthew Parker as Lilies on Mars' drummer, and this version of the group recorded the sophomore album Wish You Were a Pony in 2010. That year, the band also won a remix contest held by Christian Fennesz for their reworking of his previously unreleased song "The Seventh String." After Wish You Were a Pony's release in 2011, Lilies on Mars made their way to 2012's South by Southwest festival. Valentina Magaletti became the band's drummer in time to work on Dot to Dot, which was released in Italy in 2013 and featured the single "Oceanic Landscape," another collaboration with Battiato. Dot to Dot received a wider release in 2014.
♦♦ Lilies On Mars deliver their lavish album ‘Dot To Dot’ today via Saint Marie. After Cocteau Twins/Bella Union vet Simon Raymonde selected a cut for his radio show, the duo already had hopes high. If you’re a fan of the single ‘Dream Of Bees‘ or ‘Oceanic Landscape’, you’re in for a treat. Bandmates Lisa Masia & Marina Cristofalo recorded the LP between London and Sardina with the help of drummer Valentina Magaletti (Fanfarlo/The Oscillation). Their experiments with vintage organs, synths and space echo really pay off, it’s a unique sounding collection. ‘Dot To Dot’ is a Pandora’s box of colourful sounds, elaborate ideas, floating melodies and odd psychedelia. This is a strange record, but a great listen. It’s not an album you’re likely to connect with immediately, it’ll take a few listens to get a grapple on. But once you do, the otherworldly nature of it will stay with you. Fortaken: http://www.soundsbetterwithreverb.com/
By Dylan Welsh
♦♦ The first time I heard London’s Lilies On Mars, I was excited by their ambient, guitar-driven songs that skirted gracefully along the line between their contemporaries in the shoegaze and post-rock genres, bringing to mind groups such as Ringo Deathstar and Mogwai. Their new release, Dot to Dot, is much heavier on the ambiance than what I’ve heard from them thus far, and seems to focus much more on sonic texture than song construction.
♦♦ The first track, “See You Sun,” sets the tone for most of the album right away. Generally, the tunes are a little dark, sinister, and lathered with reverb and sweet, old school analogue synthesizer tones. The guitar takes a dreamy backseat role, strumming along quietly with the low-mixed vocal harmonies, letting the strong beats and synth pads drive the album forward. The songs continue in this fashion for the majority of the record, blending together well but feeling a little repetitive and redundant by the end.
♦♦ The song that most noticeably broke this formula was the fourth track, “No Way.” ♦♦ It contains a far catchier chord progression and more prominent vocal line than other track, mixed in with a great sounding washy guitar. This was the first song on the record that didn’t feel like a dance track to me. I also really enjoyed the tracks “Impossible Child” and “For the First Three Years.” “Impossible Child” is much less repetitive both harmonically and melodically than other tracks on the record. “For the First Three Years” throws an unexpected kink in the formula by dropping the big, sustained synth pads almost entirely, making the other elements sound significantly darker, creepier, and far more intimate.
♦♦ While I appreciate whenever a group tries to move in a new direction, the production and heavy reliance upon large, ambient synthesizers and heavy beats made this album feel like a club record. Dot to Dot is infections and danceable, but it’s also repetitive and fairly unremarkable amongst the myriad of other synth-pop releases that are out these days.
Pros: Cool, ambient soundscape that has a few really killer tracks.
Cons: Repetitive and doesn’t bring anything unique or unexpected to the table.
Highlights: “No Way,” “Impossible Child,” “For the First Three Years”
Review by: Lauren Jefferson | Score: 8.0
January 28, 2014 Anhedonia on The Rocks, Music
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|Lilies On Mars — Dot to Dot (2014)|