Friday, June 17, 2016

Rocks clever: Old Sunlight by Latitudes

Listening to Old Sunlight, I'm reminded that metal is the beast that ate prog rock whole: its technicality, its lyrical conceits, it's ambition and experimental bent. That can go one of two ways - either the incorporation of 70's styles into yr actl metal (Opeth, say) or accepting the mandate to march to your own drum.

Latitudes mostly take the latter path, playing long, mainly instrumental songs which shift riff regularly, swinging dynamically in the way a really tight rock rythym section can and appropriating ideas from across the metal microgenres. 

As the main signifier of prog of yore, keyboardist and occasional vocalist Adam Symonds sings in a slightly mannered and rather English way. And the production is very clean, which gels nicely with the musical approach, giving it a precise, almost jazz-fusion-y* feel.

The obsessively taxonomic Encyclopedia Metallum describes Latitudes as post-metal - which I like to think is code for 'we're not sure what this is but it rocks. Cleverly.'

In short, they play fussy, technical music reminding me a little of the 'very tight band' in this Scary Go Round strip. So, by rights I should hate Old Sunlight: many is the time I've stood up sitting down in the pub for ideas and heart in music over mere proficiency.

Here's the thing though: Latitudes can play the kablooey out of their instruments, but it's all placed at the service of the piece rather than to foreground a soloist or to justify self-indulgence. The intricacies are still perhaps a little hard for a lay reviewer to truly appreicate, but it's still really rather magical in a strangely funky sort of way.

And most signficantly: it's still on heavy rotation here.

Listen to the whole album on Bandcamp.

 *Ha! As if I know anything about jazz fusion.

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