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Lanterns on the Lake at Cargo Review

LANTERNS ON THE LAKE

First tonight to showcase their take on experimental, left-field sounds are Norwegian psych-rockers, Maribel. Looking like Rapunzel after a night on the lash, front-woman Rebekka Von Marksteiner adds dreamy, ephemeral vocals to scuzzy guitars and heavier-than-expected drumming to create an air of creeping menace. There’s a touch of Jenny Hval, the guitar-driven introspectiveness of Le Corbeau and the brooding Goth of Esben and the Witch. Nevertheless, you suspect that this is Maribel on their best behaviour and there’s a lot of weirdness itching to get out – if they unleash the freaks they really want to be, Maribel could be a whole heap of interesting.

For such a quiet band, headliners Lanterns on the Lake have a lot of members - but this quietness is deceptive, and belies some surprisingly dense, intricately-crafted soundscapes. They begin with  Lungs Quicken from 2011’s well-received album 'Gracious Tide, Take Me Home', a woozy lullaby with some mournful violin, nice electronic effects and enchanting, breathy vocals from Hazel Wilde. Elsewhere, vocal duties are shared with Adam Sykes, whose light but substantial tenor grounds Wilde's more ethereal soprano. On If I’ve Been Unkind, a more conventional dream-folk number, Wilde echoes Sykes like a persistent ghost in the room, heightening the sense of yearning in the lyrics “You were never even there.”  The decision to have both male and female vocalists is undoubtedly one of the band’s strengths – the result is perhaps how The XX might have sounded if they’d decided to do folk instead.

Despite a tendency to stick to formula on some tracks, Lanterns create some unusual and unexpected sounds – guitars are more likely to be played with bows rather than fingers, and electronic blips and beeps contrast nicely with the more traditional sound of the violin. There’s also some impressive drumming, a pleasant surprise for a genre in which drums are often an optional extra. The resulting layers of sound recall the other-worldly strains of This Mortal Coil and, more recently, My Sad Captains.

Elsewhere, Lanterns strip things right down and Wilde’s fragile, agonised vocal is more reminiscent of Daughter, particularly in the desolate lyrics: “You say I’m a sorry state and I should be ashamed.” They end with a slightly over-indulgent eight minutes of wishy-washy shoegazing, which certainly transports the band to their special place, if not all of the audience. Overlong songs notwithstanding, Lanterns on the Lake deliver a surprisingly mature set, beautiful and touching at its best, but slightly nebulous and repetitive in parts. Like Maribel, if they were to explore their obvious creativity and experimental side a little further, they could transform themselves into something quite special. 

 

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Review - Theresa Heath

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