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Mary Lattimore Collected Pieces

Mary Lattimore — Collected Pieces (April 14th, 2017)

     Mary Lattimore — Collected Pieces (April 14th, 2017) Mary Lattimore — Collected Pieces (April 14th, 2017)♠   Mary Lattimore is a harpist living in Philadelphia. She experiments with her Lyon and Healy Concert Grand harp and effects. Her solo debut, “The Withdrawing Room”, was released in 2013 on Desire Path Recordings.
♠   Her most recent album, At The Dam, was released in March 2016 on Ghostly International.
♠   “It’s only in looking back that you realize how impermanent stuff always was, even though 12 years felt really long,” Mary explains. “The songs here have always been really special to me, and more so after bringing together these scraps and odes to memories of a burning motel, people from high school who are old now, or that Wawa convenience store on the Jersey shoreline which will probably always be there but is now so far away.”                                                         
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Album release: April 14th, 2017
Record Label: Ghostly International
Duration:     54:23
Tracks:
1. Wawa By The Ocean     10:29
2. Bold Rides     13:46
3. We Just Found Out She Died     4:34
4. It Was Late And We Watched The Motel Burn     13:32
5. The Warm Shoulder     4:56
6. Your Glossy Camry     7:06
Description:
♠   Last year, Mary Lattimore’s At The Dam marked a watershed moment for the classically trained harpist. While over the past decade she had recorded and performed with notable talents like Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten, Steve Gunn, Jarvis Cocker, Meg Baird, and Thurston Moore, Mary’s acclaimed third solo full~length (her first long~player for Ghostly International) saw her own music deservedly embraced by a wider audience. It was certainly no small feat coming from a beguiling album of improvised, processed harp pieces that had been recorded during stops along a road trip across America — all funded by an esteemed fellowship that she received from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
♠   Out April 14 on cassette and digital, Collected Pieces is a gorgeous counterpart to At The Dam, featuring six tracks previously available only as a download and/or streaming off Mary’s Bandcamp and SoundCloud pages. Recorded at her old home in Philadelphia between 2011 and 2016 and mixed by longtime collaborator Jeff Zeigler, Mary is reflective when describing this album~length compilation. “It’s me opening a box filled with 12 years worth of memories made while living there, with lots of beauty and sorrow, as well as total sunshine, blurriness, and some darkness all housed within.”
♠   Throughout Collected Pieces, she conjures a mesmerizing range of colors and emotions from her 47~string Lyon & Healy harp along with subtle augmentations of effects and processed electronics. Dedicated to Mary’s favorite beach town, Ship Bottom, NJ, 10~and~a~half~minute opener “Wawa By The Ocean” gently unfolds like a daydream, with the song’s delicate refrain slowly dissolving into a light wash of delayed plucks and sun~kissed countermelodies. “We Just Found Out She Died,” however, takes a more celestial turn as her airy vocal harmonies shimmer underneath the meditative flutter of her harp. (The chimeric atmosphere is befitting of the song’s inspiration: Twin Peaks actress Margaret Lanterman, a/k/a the Log Lady, who sadly passed away shortly after Mary had seen her speak at a library in Philadelphia.) From the sweet yearn of “The Warm Shoulder” to the flickering drift of “Your Glossy Camry,” Mary’s music is all at once intimate and inviting as she effortlessly balances her exquisite sense of melodicism with an inventive ear for experimentation.
♠   “It’s only in looking back that you realize how impermanent stuff always was, even though 12 years felt really long,” Mary explains. “The songs here have always been really special to me, and more so after bringing together these scraps and odes to memories of a burning motel, people from high school who are old now, or that Wawa convenience store on the Jersey shoreline which will probably always be there but is now so far away.”
♠   A new transplant from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, Mary hasn’t had much time to settle into her new hometown. Following a recent tour with Waxahatchee and Kevin Morby, the coming months ahead will find her on the road again with Real Estate, playing synth in the New Rain Duets with Mac McCaughan, taking on a two~month residency at the Headlands in Sausalito, CA (May through July), and recording a duo record with Meg Baird for Three Lobed Recordings.
Review
By Marc Masters, APRIL 15 2017 / Score: 7.6
♠   The latest set from harpist Mary Lattimore is like an audio scrapbook, collecting songs she recorded between 2011 and 2016. It contains a sense of time frozen into snapshots of memory.
few years ago, harpist Mary Lattimore ventured from her Philadelphia home and traveled across the country, making music at various stops along the way. But her resulting album, 2016’s At the Dam, wasn’t a travelogue in the literal sense. Lattimore’s solo harp work is usually instrumental and often improvised, and thus not easily pinned down to specific meanings. The record did work as a diary of her trip, though, with its wide range of sounds and moods suggesting open~ended adventure and keen sensitivity to changing environments.
♠   Now settled in Los Angeles, Lattimore has had time to reflect on what she left behind. Collected Pieces is like an audio scrapbook, comprising songs she recorded between 2011 and 2016, previously available only as downloads or streams. These songs aren’t just from the past — they’re largely about the past, too, recounting places and people that Lattimore encountered in Philadelphia and can now only revisit through recollection. Once again, her pieces are too abstract to carry clear narratives. But through titles that indicate a song’s subject, and music that’s patient and contemplative, Collected Pieces has a sense of time frozen into the snapshots of memory.
♠   In some cases, those snapshots are quite specific even if the music is open to interpretation. The name of opener “Wawa by the Ocean” refers to a convenience store Lattimore frequented whenever visiting the New Jersey beachfront town of Ship Bottom. It’s not hard to hear Lattimore’s delicate string plucks as waves gently tapping at a shore, or to hear the song’s rising and descending notes as analogs to the sun’s slow summer cycles. But what’s more interesting is the way Lattimore repeats and massages her melodic figures, modifying them throughout the song’s 10 minutes while never veering too far away. Her variations blur on top of each other to form a single motif, much the way memory can turn many specific events into one general one. It’s the musical equivalent of a thousand instances of “I’m going to Wawa” becoming one big “I used to go to Wawa.”
♠   That sense of the past as a living mental space pops up a lot on Collected Pieces. Lattimore’s slow plucks on “We Just Found Out She Died” echo like fading pictures — the title references a “Twin Peaks” actress that Lattimore had seen speak not long before she passed away, and the song itself eventually morphs into ethereal hums akin to Julee Cruise’s dreamy meditations. On “”It Was Late and We Watched the Motel Burn” — which Lattimore actually did one night — effects give her harp sounds their own ghosts and shadows, which slowly subsume the 13~minute piece until it feels like it’s composed of remnants of music that ended a while ago.
♠   Not everything on Collected Pieces can be mapped to an event from Lattimore’s past, but each track seems to tell a story. Often that’s because her melodies are simple and unabashedly pretty, taking on the qualities of a nursery rhyme meant to stick in your ear. Yet Lattimore’s playing is complex and daring in subtle but distinct ways. You can hear it in the small strums she adds to the gentle sway of “Bold Rides,” skewing them just enough from the song’s rhythm that the tune is hard to predict, at times even interestingly uncomfortable. During closer “Your Glossy Camry,” she plays cleverly with pace, feinting toward an acceleration that doesn’t quite materialize, though your brain might fill it in anyway.
♠   Such layered playing makes Collected Pieces more than a compilation of disparate, isolated songs. Lattimore’s approach to the harp is so thorough that she can practically talk through it at this point; she’s created a language. That helps explain why music that is, on the surface, just a collection of string plucks can paint evocative pictures of the unique hold memory has on the past, and vice versa.  ♠   http://pitchfork.com/
Bandcamp: https://marylattimoreharpist.bandcamp.com/album/collected-pieces
Tumblr: http://marylattimoreharpist.tumblr.com/
Label: http://ghostly.com/artists/mary-lattimore
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harpistmarylattimore
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/mary-lattimore
Discography:
Ξ   The Withdrawing Room (Desire Path, 2013)
Ξ   Slant of Light (with Jeff Zeigler) (Thrill Jockey, 2014)
Ξ   At the Dam (Ghostly International, 2016)
Ξ   Collected Pieces (Ghostly International, April 14th, 2017)℗ΞΞΞΞΞΞ℗ΞΞΞΞΞΞ℗ΞΞΞΞΞΞ℗ΞΞΞΞΞΞ℗ΞΞΞΞΞΞ℗ΞΞΞΞΞΞ℗ΞΞΞΞΞΞ℗ΞΞΞΞΞΞ℗

Mary Lattimore Collected Pieces

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