Welcome back to these humble pages the busiest music blogger in the sphere, Ben P Scott. We’re pleased to have dragged him away from his duties on the burgeoning RW/FF, and God Is In The TV, to contribute another fine erudite review. Ben explores the latest release from one of our Scottish labels of choice Armellodie, perusing at his leisure the ambient subtle experiments of Dan Lyth & The Euphrates.
Dan Lyth And The Euphrates ‘Benthic Lines’ (Armellodie) Available Now
In an age when pretty much anyone can make an album in their bedroom, Dan Lyth takes a different and most refreshing approach, exploring the far-reaching possibilities of field recording. Lyrically picking up on topics such as technology and human interaction, the eight tracks on the reflective Benthic Lines seem to fit together as a place-to-place journey, appropriate for an album recorded entirely outdoors in various locations, from Lyth’s native Scotland to Morocco, Australia, Turkey and Uganda.
The instrumentation often begins sparsely, and builds in intelligently subtle ways throughout each track, save for a few minimally dressed moments where the structure and timing of the songs play the key part in their growth. Within the sensuous glow of the opening ‘All My Love’, Lyth’s plaintively expressive vocals resonate with warmth and sincerity as soft piano and brushed drums paint a calming atmospheric picture before ending with some lovely horns.
The standout ‘Four Creatures’ darkly appealing mood is enhanced by its imaginative arrangements, Lyth even turning it to industrial territory towards the end and finishing with a terrific bit of brass, something that also lights up the climax of the tenderly haunting ‘Earth Broke Its Vow’. In between the sad, charming twinkle of ‘When It Happened’ and the elegantly melancholic ‘This Time In November’, we find a welcome change of pace in ‘We Were Bones And We Were Meat’, which bustles with busy percussion, nocturnal vibes and even a touch of house piano. “A big chunk of inspiration came from Steve Reich’s work” says Lyth, “and one of the main aims of the album in terms of the arrangements was to try and make music that sounds electronic or programmed but is actually all live acoustic instruments.”
While his cracked vocal on the acoustic ‘Standing Start’ is an endearing thing, even another magnificent flourishing of brass at the end can’t save it from being somewhat lightweight, and it can be considered an acquired taste. However, it’s hard not to fall for the ambient beauty of ‘Super Nature’, which concludes things in spellbinding fashion, providing the album with another highlight.
There are examples of songs being taken to different places when they are, quite literally, taken to different places. The natural acoustics of each recording location add character and atmosphere to the music, and Benthic Lines certainly sounds less restricted as a result. And the music is only part of the package: Benthic Lines comes in a 60 page hardback book featuring photos from the various recording locations and a short story from Fife-based writer Craig Rennie, making this something of an artifact. It’s an often beautifully textured record that immerses the listener in the destinations where the music was created, an intriguing journey of sorts.