The Late Cord
Lights From The Wheelhouse
This one took me by surprise, started grabbing at my throat and clutching at the hidden spaces in my heart mere moments into the first track, “Lila Blue.” I’m not familiar with either of the “day jobs” of Late Cordsmen Micah P. Hinson (a singer-songwriter) or John-Mark Lapham (The Earlies), I’m sure it’s excellent stuff, but nowhere near as beguiling as this. For you see, Lights From the Wheelhouse, is the stuff that makes up fortunate dreams. I first played it when driving and I just wasn’t prepared; this is music for when you’ve consciously decided not to leave the house —too bright out there. The slow crest, upward arc that is at the very hopeful heart of “Lila Blue” builds and builds like a mountain of misfit toys, finally finding their mission in life, to vibrate in eternal harmony. It starts off slow and quiet, but in perfect sine-wave harmony, synthesizers, keyboards, drums, pump organ, cast-off junk, static, old radios, plastic guitars all unite and build into a perfect booming oneness, over which a prayerful and devout Hinson enters for a too-brief verse, sung in a hushed, gothic baritone akin to Andrew Eldritch in the midst of a religious epiphany. A simple thing really. The coda, or more accurately, second movement is the quiet, minimal ying to the towering beauty of the initial piece.
The eponymous “Late Cord” is unbearably sad and deliberative, every note quietly wept over and wrung out —a skipping electronic pulse for barely-there percussion, dripping water, a discarded guitar shimmers in the corner, Hinson duets with himself, distractedly, seemingly forgetting the words. “Chains Strings” is a funeral march for cello, like some of the sparer pieces on This Mortal Coil’s Blood, The whole of Lights From The Wheelhouse seems to hinge on the ghostly fin de siecle torch song “My Only Meaningful Relationships Are With Dead People.” The piano notes ring with glass-like clarity in an immense void, only punctuated by empathically sighing machines and Micah P. Hinson wearily murmuring what sounds like “it’s so very wonderful.”
Tell me what she’s like, as the Dexy’s once sang. In time, in time…. Nico, This Mortal Coil, Legendary Pink Dots, Coil, Codeine, Animal Collective, Eno’s Another Green World, John Cale, empty churches, long forgotten promises of devotion– few have the soul to strip away the pretense and communicate directly with the source. The truth is that we are all alone, and only in finding desolate beauty such as this, will we be momentarily soothed and connected.
Of course it’s on 4AD, silly.
4AD Records: www.4ad.com