There are records you shout and scream along to, there are those you lock yourself away in a room with, and there are those you occasionally use for sober, reflective contemplation. Falling directly into that third category is The Late Cord’s debut mini-album (must be what they’re calling EPs this year) Lights from the Wheelhouse - a collaboration between John-Mark Lapham, part of the Texan half of The Earlies, and southern noir singer songwriter Micha P. Hinson.
Lights from the Wheelhouse_ asks a question all too rarely asked: just what would the sound of Leonard Cohen slowly slipping into bed with Brian Eno’s ambient work actually be? Well, if you think it would be a record relying on warm pulsating tones, drones and skilfully directed electronic flourishes balancing themselves upon the mournfully aching croak of a weighty baritone and reflective lyrics, then you’re not far wrong. While lacking the immediacy and structure that allows the arguably like-minded Sigur Rós to be used as backing music for every BBC montage of wild animals in slow motion imaginable, this collection of sparse, drawn-out compositions slowly comes to life on highlights like the sombre ‘My Most Meaningful Relationships Are With Dead People’ and opener ‘Lila Blue’, by carefully fusing Hinson’s talents as a world weary performer with Lapham’s technological brushstrokes. It’s beautiful stuff when it works.
But when the record doesn’t work, its lesser moments find it haunted by its very strengths. ‘The Late Cord’ nails the ambient atmospherics but veers off into indulgence by adding too many effects onto Hinson’s powerful voice, while ‘Chains/Strings’ serves as an elegant interlude that fails to engage as the complete song it wants to be.
Still, like having a good read through a stranger’s journal, The Late Cord’s debut connects and wanders off into personal indulgence in equal measure, and while you rarely give the indulgent parts a second thought, you’ll frequently find yourself drawn back to the juicy bits.
6Charles Ubaghs's Score