Slow Dancing Society returns with a fresh batch of softly wafting, half-awake post-rock on Laterna Magica. I’ve long been a fan of Drew Sullivan’s signature blend of ambient textures and slow-motion, evocative guitar, the pair melted together most often in a ballad-like form, and Laterna Magica offers plenty of that and more. Sullivan’s cool pizzicato playing, like rain drops on guitar strings, forms the base of several tracks. “A Few Moments” finds it gracefully sharing space with gossamer pads, light touches of piano, and echoing rimshot-style percussion. (A familiar sound to those of us who eagerly dive into each new SDS release, and one that’s well-used here quite a bit.) The closing track, “Tomorrow’s Another Day,” is also built around the pizzicato sound, more high pads and a little bit of vinyl-scratch for added texture. You get a different side of Sullivan’s soulful playing on tracks like “Bones & Ice,” his melody accented by lazy slides up or down the neck and perfectly stretched, expectant pauses between notes. This track has a wonderful sparseness to it; Sullivan is an artist who honors the potency of negative space and the lasting colors of patient sustain. Hear it again in “Gardens & Graves.” Here, phrases on acoustic guitar and piano speak briefly and then pull back. There’s a great passage where he comes at you strong with the strings, galloping up to it then just letting it all fall back. A slight change of pace arrives in the short track “Pieces of Your Presence,” carried on a throbbing sequencer line and a slight sense of urgency. An interesting departure that works.
Part of the allure of any Slow Dancing Society release, for me, is the strong vein of honesty that runs through it. There’s a distinct soul-baring quality at work, like Sullivan is confiding in you in a somewhat hesitant way–he has to get what’s inside out, but it comes in deliberately spaced moments. Listen closely. You’ll like what Laterna Magica has to say.
Available from Hidden Shoal.