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Tuesday
Oct062009

Lawrence - Until then, Goodbye

LAWRENCE - UNTIL THEN, GOODBYE (Mule)

A Lawrence album is a rare thing in dance music; in that it contains rivulets of soul and melancholy that permeate the gorgeous open spaces afforded by his spartan arrangements. That’s not to say that soul and melancholy aren’t rare in this genre, but to have them intertwine with each other with such delicious ease is.

I had thought that since the beautiful autumnal delights of “The Night Will Last Forever” that he had lost his way a little, but this album on Japanese label Mule marks something approaching a return to form. If anything, the Japanese influence of producers such as Sawako seems to be pertinent here, particularly in the childlike organic feel of “Father Umbrillo” and “Todenhausen Blues” which recalls the naïve charm of Miyazaki films, being full of real instrumentation and percussion. An accordion in particular feels right in amongst the instruments he chooses. Album opener “Sunrise” is apt, as trickles of melody cascade amongst each other over a backdrop of subdued horns. “Grey” and “Jill” then snake their way forward with assurance, being the sort of carefully constructed atmospheric builders that we have come to expect from Kersten, embroidered with delicious sinewy arrangements.  

There’s a pause for thought with the downbeat “The Dream”, which provides a strong anchor for the album’s narrative pace. I was a bit disappointed then that the two songs after lapse a little into unremarkable atmospheric tech-house, and for a little while it’s more Lawrence-by-numbers which is a shame as matters had become interesting up until that point. Fortunately “Don’t Follow Me” is an 8 minute journey into abstraction, and is him at his weird best, for me alongside Rajko Muller and James Stinson the best in producing atmospheric introspection. “Sleep and Suffer” is all techno chords without the beats, being reminiscent of Steve Rachmad, before the album closes with the rapturous piano of “A New Day” and the title track’s muffled elegance, punctuated by orchestral drums.

Like a lot of albums released this year (I’m not suggesting a trend), there’s not enough for me to enthuse over wildly, but this seems like a definitive transition in Kersten’s approach both to his sound and his composition. The driving techno tracks that are characterised by sleek, sparse production seem out of place alongside the more downtempo compositions that give this album much needed colour and warmth. The album’s narrative in particular I found ground to a halt halfway through, which was a shame as the two tracks that seemed out of place were to blame. Still, there’s enough on there to satisfy fans and capture a few new ones.

Toby Frith

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