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Album Reviews

Mary Lattimore & Paul Sukeena: West Kensington

The Los Angeles-based duo release their debut LP.

Mary Lattimore has been one of the many artists who has creatively thrived during the lockdown period, beginning with her landmark 2020 release, Silver Ladders (produced by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead).

Last year, she followed up Silver Ladders with Collected Pieces II. Whist consisting of previously unreleased material, for those unfamiliar with Lattimore’s body of work, it felt more like an entry point into harpist’s world.

On West Kensington, Lattimore teams up with fellow Los Angeles-based musician, guitarist Paul Sukeena. Having already released the standalone single, Dreaming of the Kelly Pool, the duo follow it up with their debut album, West Kensington.

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Spanning over six compositions, West Kensington is filled with song titles that are more likened to a punk band sharing in-jokes. Revealing their humorous side, these titles juxtapose the compositions Lattimore and Sukeena produce.

While perhaps an attempt to throw their listeners off-guard, from the opening note of Hundred Dollar Hoagie, and later with Altar of Tammy, it’s evident that this isn’t some throwaway lockdown project. Both pieces, otherworldly sci-fi drone explorations that are chiselled out with plinking harps and orchestral nuance.

Mary Lattimore & Paul Sekeena - West Kensington

Meanwhile, on Flaming Cherries Jubilee at Antoine and Didn’t See the Comet, Lattimore and Sukeena show their evocative side, creating an imagery akin to walking through a fantastical sun drenched rain forest. Lattimore’s harp creates a fragile cinematic drama alongside Sukeena’s post-country dreamscapes. Described in the press release as “Alice Coltrane jamming with a copy of Eno/Lanois’ ‘Apollo'”, it isn’t far off the mark.

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And on This Time Juliane Landed Softly, those atmospheric post-country vibes meet with the kind of floating orbital drones Ben Chasny has mastered over the last decade. It leads into the closing composition, the brilliantly titled Garage Wine. Not so much taking cues from its title (again, those juxtapositions), Garage Wine is a mindless meander across green open terrains, forming the same kind of images one experiences with Kenneth James Gibson’s Groundskeeping.

In many ways Garage Wine encapsulates West Kensington. A lusciously arranged album seemingly designed by angels guarding heaven’s gates. From start to finish, Lattimore and Sukeena gently steer us into their world, and it’s one you won’t want to leave in a hurry.

There have been a swathe of wonderfully crafted experimental releases so far this year, though few have been as tender and exquisite as West Kensington.  

West Kensington is out Friday via Three Lobed Recordings. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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