Review of In The Lens [12k1086]

Fluid Radio (UK)

Like everything, In The Lens has been shaped by its past, the music recovered from the garbled intestines of a decades-old hard drive and previously lost emails that were, over the years, left to wallow in discontinued, withering accounts. Forlorn and forgotten samples that were recorded on cassette dictaphones shed a gentle light on Solo Andata’s musical lineage, but in this new era fresh elements appear alongside these re-worked sounds. As a result, the music has both a contemporary and a lightly dated feel to it, like memories shrouded in orbs of present moment dust.

Solo Andata’s Kane Ikin and Paul Fiocco prefer to take things into their own hands, favouring a workshop vibe over the digitally pristine (and sometimes sterile) studio. Acoustic instruments that lie close to ruin sit beside the cheaply produced microphones, and when united they give off a beautifully impure sound. Anything goes, and this lends the music a special kind of authenticity. Photo-shopping of any kind is strictly prohibited. This is what the music looks like without its make-up on: truly glorious. There’s a raw spell to the au naturel music, a refreshing innocence that shrugs off the glorification of the over-produced record; instead, it is what it is, and it proudly glues itself to the record.

Their fourth full-length album is a creaking and yet progressive entity, surprisingly healthy in its full-bodied tones and its sprightly physicality. The motion is smooth and more than steady. The assembled parts fit sleekly into a mechanized whole. On their own, the incoherent strands would be messy, but, as in day-to-day life, order and rhythm is everywhere. They line up, producing a symmetry that is both free and structured. Other elements and found sounds are inserted into the music, peppering it with seemingly random clicks and clanks that nonetheless produce intermittent rhythms, the sound largely unfiltered but all the purer for it. Soothing tones are set free, looping around and shimmering in its lake of serenity. Ghosting around the music, a piano twinkles in and out, darkening the mood ever so slightly.

In The Lens has a little darkness to it (as well as a little rust), but the horns and the flutes dispel its lingering presence, providing pale streetlights against the gloom. And the under-produced sound is as warm as a cottage home, infused with love and tenderness, and you can risk losing that in a studio-produced environment. The jumbling sound is forever roaming, never settling on any given tone for long. In spite of its wanderings, and with so much going on, the music doesn’t lose its gentle, sensitive approach. Shy melodies never stay around for long; as their lifespan reaches the end, they converge and then fall apart. Tinkling chimes and clinking pieces of china gently produce the light, unobtrusive timpani as the lower drones swell and then rise, steaming like a recently boiled kettle. Yes, home-made music has a comfortable sound to it, but don’t mistake that for music consistently reclining in its comfort zone. It’s anything but that. A serene ending is in store as the music glides along like a pair of swans on a lilting lake, the silver dusting of light dancing and the trickling of running water sedating the sounds until they’re utterly calm and breathing easily.

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