Lawrence, Films & Windows


Photo by Michael Wolf

[Dial]

Bring up Lawrence’s name, and you’ll get a mixture of reverent praise and “he’s not quite as good as he used to be,” usually within the same response. Peter Kersten’s early material was charmingly mopey and ramshackle; he has shed both characteristics in the decade or so since his debut. This isn’t to suggest he hasn’t remained reliably interesting. It’s more that — and here is where some fans have gone off him — he has streamlined these signature elements so that his tones come off more pensive than flat-out melancholy; or his beats will be perfectly aligned, but maybe the bass line will be loose and off-the-grid. In my estimation, this is more a symptom of maturity than selling out for Ibiza or wherever. Kersten just sounds like he’s having an easier time dragging himself out of bed lately.

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This might explain the slightly worldly feel of Films & Windows, his latest LP. Has Lawrence ever played Labyrinth festival? He’s played Freerotation. Both have fostered micro-scenes of artists who deal in hypnotic, even borderline trance-y or tribal sounds, possibly aided by their natural surroundings. There is something of this on the record. Films & Windows is also the producer’s most club-oriented album, and there are few indulgences, save the beatless but pleasant intro and outro pieces. The rhythms are fairly staid throughout the rest, and maybe this is for the better, as they allow Kersten space to patiently unfold his ideas. “Etoile du Midi” and “Creator (Final Call)” were released last year on 12″ to some criticism, but both shine in the album context. The former is cut by three minutes, and its placement as a centerpiece really helps its twinkling, streaky chimes stand out. Its counterpart, meanwhile, with its fluttering horns and interjections of plush samples, provides a dreamy finale.

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Part of what helps bolster “Etoile du Midi” is “Lucifer,” the piece that follows it. This track especially speaks to the point about nature festivals: although it has a decent amount of change, with the producer modulating delicate ambience in the background and throwing in the occasional stab, its trebly drums and wobbly main synth remain virtually the same, locked in a movement just below a surge, gliding forward without pushing too far over the edge. It brings lower-tempo Donato Dozzy to mind. “In Patagonia” might just be Kersten getting inspired by Patagonia┬«, like the mountain lodge equivalent to Max Dunbar’s “Polo,” but it would make sense if he was referring to the region. There’s a real windswept, edge-of-the-world rumination about its pads, which drift atop its stripped-down rhythm like pink clouds threatening snow. “Angels At Night” expertly melds a Detroit-style pattern of squeaking synthesizer with more of those signature pads, while the fleshed-out “Har Sinai” indeed manages to usher Films & Windows into the cinematic. For a producer who had a melodica solo and a lot of vibraphone on his last album, this effort definitely represents a return to essentials. But even in “playing it safe,” it beats expectations, because as long as Kersten keeps his wispy, mysterious luster intact, he will at the very least be worth listening to.

Trackbacks

Little White Earbuds August Charts 2013 | Little White Earbuds  on August 30, 2013 at 12:04 AM

[…] Station” [white] 09. Donato Dozzy, “Vaporware 05″ [Spectrum Spools] 10. Lawrence, “Etoile Du Midi” [Dial] » Brandon Wilner | August 30th, 2013 Tags: black sites, charts, edward, kareem, […]

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