Before we dive into the new album "Telepathic" by long time melodically dark-pop band L'Altra I would like to pose the question about how overlapping and redundant the genre of labels for bands has become these days.
While beginning my listening session for L'Altra's new album I noticed on certain websites and critiques they were labeled as "Chamber Pop." Chamber pop? Really? When I think of pop I think of any band that is being played on the radio or has an upbeat friendly sound, I am assuming after all that it is derivative of the word "popular". When I think of Chamber music I think of Celtic Druids performing rituals by the Stonehenge in the dead of night while ominous pipe organ music plays in the background. So, chamber pop? I know, it's like the name of strains of Marijuana. You just take a bunch of independent nouns and verbs and throw them together, like Banana Psychology, or in music genre naming jazz post-classical alternative funk minimal art blues. I digress…
L'Altra, a jazz infused pop band originally formed in Chicago back in the early 2000's consisted primarily of the singer/songwriter talents of Lindsey Anderson and Joseph Desler Costa. I mention these two because they are the only band members left. With several LP and Ep's released over the decade L'Altra members quietly went their own ways, recording solo projects and joining up with other bands for various collaborations. Now consisting primarily of Anderson and Desler Costa, L'Altra has released their 5th official studio album "Telepathic."
With a solemn brooding feel emitted throughout the album, Telepathic tugs at the emotional strings with heartfelt sweeping melodies. Two instrumentals bookend the albums, "Dark Corners I and II" and set the mood appropriately with a slow jazzy saxophone set to the background of ambient electronics.
Anderson's voice coupled with the soft piano tones and acoustic guitars make for mesmerizing haunting sound that slowly unveils itself as the song progresses. Highlights of this captivating sound can be heard prominently on "Either was the other's mine." Desler Costa's soft serenade blends perfectly along with the electronics and acoustic guitars on "Boys" and "Nothing can tear us apart". Paced by moderate tempered percussion "When the ship sinks" plays like a perfect song for driving through the country side.
"Big air kiss" has a quirky sound to its core and a slightly awkward delivery by Desler Costa. It is one of the only songs that takes a break from the haunting mood that is prominently heard throughout the course of "Telepathic."
True highlights of the album take shape in "Winter Loves summer sun." Beginning haunting ambient electronics and slowly stirred to a simmer by a clear ringing acoustic guitar the percussion and synthesizer kicks in for a delicious slowly pulsating melody that has the most depth out of any track on this album. Desler Costa and Anderson call and response technique harmonize in the chorus bringing the song to a beautiful crescendo before breaking back into the haunting groove that makes this track easily the most intelligent sounding and experimental song on the LP. Other similar highlights include the next song "The Bruise" and the hollowing yet beat driven "When the Ship sinks."
It is clear that L'Altra has a definite grasp on their vision. As accomplished musicians whether releasing solo efforts or together Anderson and Desler Costa clearly have the ability to create a small little word for the listener in-between the first and final tracks. Having a very mature sound, it takes patience and listening prowess to enjoy and appreciate the depth of their skills and musicianship. This effort cements their place in the dark pop genre and certainly tremendously enjoyable to the ears at (I know, I am a victim to the genre name game as well.)
Recommendations for maximum listening experience involve red wine, dimmer switches for lighting, (add a dash of lit candles to complete the effect), shutting out the rest of the world, and your desired listening partner. The deeper you delve into L'Altra, the more satisfaction the listening experience will become.
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Reviewer Bio - Tim Rosini is part of the editorial team at Onlinerock team. Having a background in English literature with a concentration in creative writing, Tim found himself working for various magazines and websites after moving out to the west coast last summer. Having the ability to adapt his focus from business writing to creative fiction he has found a great place to exercise his passion for music on the onlinerock website.