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Desert Ocean

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Album Review

Henry Frayne's knack for crafting vast, cinematic instrumentals is once again exemplified on this fantastic effort commencing with the mid-tempo "Luminous," which seems to have a Jeff Beck style to it despite the rhythm guitar leaning toward the Edge circa The Joshua Tree. The song seems to lift off the ground two minutes in and glides brilliantly along while Frayne adds some lean, meticulous solos over the melody. The flow of each song is phenomenal as Lanterna take a softer approach during "Venture," but with the same glorious payoff, this time with a roots, acoustic-oriented mode that shines. And the group also isn't fearful of impeding traditional time limits, moving often beyond five or six minutes without any sort of audible padding or filler. "Summer Break" is a laid-back reflective piece that a guitarist like Mark Knopfler would seek solace and comfort in. Most of these tracks would fit on any credible soundtrack as Lanterna jump headlong into a sparser, darker, and somewhat ominous area for the aptly named "Fog." This style is returned to on the coda "Messina," with more deliberate, David Gilmour-esque precision. It's not exactly eerie, but definitely creates a haunting ambience. While no one track truly stands out above the others, the whispery "48th & 8th," complete with the drum brushing of Eric Gebow, paints a lovely, dreamy, jazz-tinged portrait. Another gem is "Surf," which rides the melody for over six minutes, a gorgeous melody that seems to blend the best of Coldplay and Neil Young's acoustic or country side. This softer, acoustic groove is revisited during "Cross County," with Frayne doing some nice picking. On the whole it is a record that is as vast and agreeable as anything Lanterna has produced or will.


Formed: Champaign, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Henry Frayne's Lanterna is the Midwest counterpart to Scenic's Southwest-inspired soundtracks for a lonely journey through open lands. Combining his background in post-punk and dark dream pop with atmospherics drawing from spaghetti western soundtracks and ambient isolationism, Lanterna's mostly instrumental output generates a variety of moods, ranging from becalmed to unsettling to fiery. Although it wasn't until 1998's self-titled release through Rykodisc that Lanterna received widespread distribution,...
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Desert Ocean, Lanterna
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