L'Altra - Different Days
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Jan. 22, 2005
Review by Andy ArgyrakisThere's been a growing rise in Chicago's electronic music scene thanks to Hefty Records, the local label that's made national headlines with a series of influential artists. Regarded roster members include Slicker and Telefon Tel Aviv, along with current flagship act L'Altra, whose latest effort Different Days bows this winter. Those in the windy city are no strangers to this programmed driven duo's run of various clubs around town, with their latest beat creations translating with experimental ease to an eagerly anticipated effort. It's an experience that bridges together the vastly different worlds of core members Lindsay Anderson and Joseph Costa, who smoothly ride, then aggressively tussle against one another's vocal and instrumental dynamics with intriguing results.
Take for instance the disc's opening track "Sleepless Night," a perfect soundtrack for the insomniac hoping to chill out within a restless evening. Though it doesn't promise to be the perfect antidote to the disturbing condition, it does provide a wondrous, glazy backbone along with hypnotic doses of mellowing rhythms. Cuts like the gliding "Better Than Bleeding" and "So Surprise" also possess a tranquil undercurrent, the latter of which is sung in a seductive duet style. Even more enlightening is the electrified in comparison "Morning Disaster," which features the horn blue prints of Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley). Additional guests on the album include avant-garde cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and pulseprogramming's Marc Heller, who contributes with additional arrangements.
Such enhancements to the duo's already tightly wound clockwork provide a series of orchestral swells and lush walls of sound throughout the ten tracks presented. However, it's the album's abstract nature in general (especially on "It Follows Me Around" and "Mail Bomb") that might pass over listener's heads not already accustomed to the group's Mellotron meanderings and slowly painted random brush strokes. It may take awhile to reel that fringe audience in, though those dedicated to the electronica communities' regular release flow are likely to cite Different Days as an overall opulent outpouring.
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