Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Track Review: Julian Lynch - "Terra"

I’ve been searching for the better part of a year now to locate the seams in the music of Julian Lynch. The Underwater Peoples stalwart so effortlessly stitched together elements of folk, electronic, and ambient music across the length of his breakthrough LP, Mare (2010), that each began to blur into the next to the point where the line between the organic and the synthetic was all but imperceptible. As a result, the album had a tendency to float by unnoticed if one wasn’t zoned-in to Lynch’s methodology, which he’s mentioned has roots not only in his upbringing but also his studies in ethnomusicology. “Terra,” the pre-release teaser and title-track to his forthcoming album, grounds his more flighty inclinations in something approaching a pop framework.

Saxophone snakes its way to fore, continuing its unexpected resurgence in indie circles while introducing the track’s suave melody alongside lazy-afternoon acoustic strums and Lynch’s high and ever-so-slightly more confident vocals. Once again these ingredients fold gently into Lynch’s wistful wash of synth and circular hand percussion, but the results are neither cluttered nor exhausting. In fact, Lynch continues to make some of the most peaceful and comforting music around—the instrumental portions of the song even bring to mind the easy-going amble of the Band or Neil Young. Just as things begin to grow too relaxed, however, we’re introduced to a comparatively assertive guitar-synth breakdown, stamping out a structure not always clearly defined in Lynch’s prior work.

It certainly sounds like he’s taken cues from his time on the road, having played shows backed by members of fellow New Jersey acts Real Estate, Big Troubles, and Family Portrait, among others. And if “Terra” is any indication of Lynch’s mindset during the recording of his third album, then the results could prove as ingratiating as his live setup has promised and as functional as some of his label-mates’ more immediate material. [CMG]

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