It is amazing how much emotion and melody one can gain from a simple guitar, reverb petal, and drums. Lanterna, which is guitarist Henry Frayne and drummer Colin Koteles, create an otherworldly and ethereal music that defies the imagination. Evocative of the nineties band Scenic, albeit without the Middle Eastern influences, Lanterna creates shimmering, haunting melodies that swell and tug on your heart strings as much as they evoke a dream like quality. These tracks create an ambience so profound and yet so thoroughly American that they rival some of the most talented ambient or new age composers writing today.
The title track, “Elm Street,” sets the tone for much of the album. How many towns have an “Elm Street” somewhere in them? Listening to this track, I can imagine soaring over a thousand Elm Streets scattered across the country. It is a humid night and the summer season has started to wane, cotton curtains billow out on a breeze, and the faint echoes of Lanterna carry children’s whispers along.
Yet the second track, “B Minor,” calls to mind an entirely different set of visions. The melody makes me thing of sliding over bridges and rails in a steady arc. The rhythms that Lanterna provide are the counterpoint to the streetlights whistling past.
At once futuristic and yet rooted in the present, Lanterna is a harbinger of things to come and reminiscent of some of the great ambient and instrumentalists in the past. This is a great album. Already featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered compilation of new music, Lanterna remains one of the best-kept secrets in music. Here’s to hoping they won’t be kept secret much longer.
Badman Recording, 1388 Haight #211, San Francisco, CA 94117; http://www.badmanrecordingco.com