Mary Lattimore & Mac McCaughan – New Rain Duets

Back in November 2018 we were talking about Mary Lattimore and her Ghost Forests collaboration with Meg Baird. Continuing the spirit of combining energies Lattimore is back on our radar. This time, partnering with Mac McCaughan on a similarly beautiful, but entirely different shaped project. New Rain Duets is an instrumental blend of the ambient and poetic.

Having just used the word ‘ambient’ we will pause. New Rain Duets is not an ambient record. There are elements of depth, dynamic and tone that offer a meditative sense of things, but this is also something else. Across the four tracks – all titled with Roman Numerals I – IV – it’s rare that we ever gain the true sense of scale, perspective or proportion of a subject. So, yes, there are elements of an ambient record, but the texture and atmosphere of these tracks suggest something more dynamic, something more present.

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McCaughan provides a series of tonal synth beds from which Lattimore builds structure. His work is neither dormant or simply backdrop – these are beds that roll, undulate, shift – they are fluid. They swell and evolve in progression, whilst Lattimore’s harp work spikes, cascades, in informs flow. Instrumentally speaking we’re hearing the sound of a body of water being filled by rain, and becoming larger than it’s surroundings. Rain and body being one, the same and different.

Sometimes there’s an almost, but not quite, call and answer between the melodic progressions. Harp and synths forming relationships, learning each others language. These phrases are broken, searching – like the poetry that occurs when we speak new phrases in an unfamiliar language. It works because it knows some but not all of the rules dialog. Of course this can only happen because Lattimore and McCaughan trust the ability of the other, and the flow of each movement. Everything breathes.

Across the sequence, and within each track there are undulations. Nothing linear happens, and yet a course meanders – gentle wisps of tangent; a feeling is pursued, then released. There are moments of breathtaking pause, and there are moments of gentle exhilaration. The album artwork, showing a vivid green lichen growing on rocks against grey sand and sky says it all. Everything is happening. Certainly, and with the kind of beauty that remains simple, even at it’s most complex.

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