Mary Lattimore is on a tear — as much as a harpist spinning exploratory celestial soundscapes can be “on a tear.” Last year alone the Philadelphia musician gave us two phenomenal albums, her own Hundreds Of Days and a collaboration with Meg Baird titled Ghost Forests, and then she closed out the year with the gorgeous “Mary, You Were Wrong.” Now she’s about to unveil yet another collaborative album, this time with a somewhat unlikely partner: Merge Records founder and Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan.
Lattimore and McCaughan actually recorded New Rain Duets almost two years ago. The two musicians met up in the spring of 2017 hoping to wash away the muck of the 2016 election with some improvisational duets. With Lattimore on harp and McCaughan on synthesizer, they created four cosmic instrumentals that bleed into each other, an extended ambient head trip that might just fulfill its intentions of giving listeners a mental fresh start. As McCaughan explains over email, it certainly accomplished that purpose for its creators:
Improvising with Mary is easy because you know that she makes anything sound beautiful, and beauty was something i think we were both after in the wake of a terrible 2016.
Not that everything beautiful has to be immaculate or easy, or that dissonance doesn’t play a role, but the idea of playing music with no words, which is improvised and therefore new, was very appealing in the Spring of 2017.
The name of the collaboration — New Rain Duets — hopefully reflects that idea of washing some things away and starting fresh.
Below, listen to the third movement from the album, titled “III.”
New Rain Duets is out 3/22 on Three Lobed Recordings. Pre-order it here.