Monday, October 3, 2016

Julianna Barwick & Mary Lattimore at The Mammal Gallery, Atlanta, October 2, 2016

As if there weren't already an abundance of wonder in Atlanta, last night, two wonderful musicians provided a wonderful performance at one of the coolest venues in town, downtown's Mammal Gallery.

"It's like déjà vu all over again," Yogi Berra famously once observed, and last night, we saw our second harp performer in less than a month (after Joanna Newsom's performance at The Buckhead Theater back on September 11).  Sometimes, years can pass between harp performances.  What's more, last night we saw the wonderful Julianna Barwick for the second time in less than a month (she opened for Angel Olsen at Terminal West back on September 9).  Hey, not that we're complaining - we'd do it all over again tonight if we had the chance.

We've seen Mary Lattimore before, too, although way back in 2014 at Raleigh's Hopscotch Festival, where she held her own in an improvisational duet with Thurston Moore that at times was more of a duel than a duet.  Last night, though, was a very different affair as she performed solo, using her harp to weave intricate patterns and an effects box to create loops and to occasionally alter the pitch and tone of her harp to create trippy electronic effects, as demonstrated on her great LP, At The Dam.

Julianna Barwick played a long set, a seamless, non-stop selection of compositions that all melded one into the other. With her ethereal vocal loops and emotive keyboard playing, she constructed castles and mountain ranges of sound and then echolocated through the canyons and corridors of her sonic structures. 

She played in a near-dark stage, illuminated only by a single screen that projected monochromatic colors that slowly changed as the mood and timbre of her sound evolved.

Actually, words are as insufficient in describing her sound as is the label "ambient."  It's best to hear for yourself, and to get you started, here's as good as any sample: 

It was easy to lose track of space and time during both performances.  Mary Lattimore took the stage at around 9:15 and Julianna Barwick left it around 11:00, but anything in between those two reference points is anybody's guess.  It was a beautiful show by two very talented performers, and the rapt Mammal Gallery audience gave both musicians their full attention throughout.

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