Lapis Lazuli 2018
Perilously exciting journey into collective mind of synesthesia-living quartet from the heart of English quirkiness.
A Canterbury-scene band from Canterbury itself: this may sound illogical, yet illogic is the gist of the local genre – a reasoning that LL know all too well to have been trying and making sense of such a unique blend of styles for a decade now. Cerebral as the album’s title suggests, “Brain” is the band’s most brilliant, in terms of tuneful unpredictability, release to date – and also the most multicolored one, and there’s a suspicion that the aforementioned sense is accompanied in the players’ heads with additional senses. Which renders the results of what they do so rich and out of reach.
The listener may not expect a lot of variety from the five epic pieces, with three of those crossing an 11-minute mark, but with so many internal movements an aural focus tends to shift progressively. Don’t be fooled or blinded, then, by the slow rumble of opener “Low Key” that wouldn’t take long to spring into action and establish a beautifully stumbling groove where Neil Sullivan and Dan Lander’s surf-like guitars get filtered through funky splashes which Luke Menniss’ bass and Adam Brodigan’s drums engage in. Still, once the tightly coiled six-string solos reach their apogee, intensity is paused for lyrical passages to seep into the expansive, kaleidoscopically explosive vista, its adventurousness informing also “Falling Line” – a bossa-nova-flavored number whose airy atmosphere is undercut with throbbing riffs, fusion musings and tribal percussion.
The harmonic strum that drives the menace of “And Stay Out!” is much, much heavier, though – and more explicit in displaying the group’s influences and marrying vigorous delivery to transparency to produce an intricate, exquisite weave of fandango and Frippean fury. Yet the triumphant march setting “The Slug” in a slider-oiled motion unfolds in a comical dirge – danse macabre of sorts – letting every instrument shine in the spotlight. A different kind of dance has “Hired Soul” jives and jitter, alluringly so, under a glitterball, with synthesizers and guitars circling on the floor, revealing how frivolous this ensemble can be. Entering their brain can be daunting, but the trip is rewarding, too.