|2||It Smiles Without my Lie||3:43|
|3||City Hell Cast In Fire||3:53|
|9||Silent When will it happen||3:43|
LA Timpa started with his exceptional debut ‘Equal Amounts Afraid’ for O___o?, and an acclaimed follow-up for Rabit’s Halcyon Veil, which eventually led to a guest spot on Space Afrika’s cult lightning rod ‘Honest Labour’ and a remix for Tricky. After letting the dust settle, he returns with a new collection of songs mired in rawly sublime melancholy, turning existential reflections into a richly evocative sort of chamber pop akin to Arthur Russell jamming with A.R. Kane. It drifts heavy-lidded between fully formed songs obfuscated by a dense fug to properly bezzonked lo-fi improv that follows his nose for detuned strings smudged and activated with field recordings. It’s all done in the loosest, most hypnagogic style, characterising how the spirits of ‘80s no wave NYC and even ‘90s Kiwi indie rock have sluiced into the truly singular milieu of South London in the 2020s.
Sung in a fragile yet shatterproof falsetto to backdrops of smeared loops and lines of coruscating guitar and keys, ‘Pity By One All Good Treasure’ conveys itself by seduction and suggestion rather than any heavy handed or literal techniques. Whether by design or implication, its rhythmelodic make-up recalls how West African music surfaces in the lilt of Lifetones, or even how Jim Reeves’ country music unexpectedly percolates thru Nigerian styles, all obviously at a remove of decades, but nonetheless short-circuiting expectations and putative timelines in the process.
The record wails into view with ‘Wide’, a properly bewildering opening of tangled flutes that sounds like Debit’s pre-historic wind instrument investigations as if treated by Alvin Lucier, before taking flight on a screwy trajectory that seems to reference a great deal of music we love; from labelmate Dawuna to Coby Sey’s pop inversions to Dean Blunt’s enigmatic world-building, from Tricky’s low-lit pre-millennial tension to Mica Levi’s unsteady phased strings - it all sounds immaculately produced and entirely unresolved.
In fact, the glossolalic unintelligibility of the songs becomes a virtue it its own right, initially limning and drawing us into psychoacoustic parameters and occupying an elusive mid-distance throughout the album, form the slippery lilt of ‘It Smiles Without my Lie’ to the Blood Orange-esque nod of ‘City Hell Cast In Fire’, the haunted blooziness of ‘Treatment’ and eyes-in-backa-head grog to ‘Brave (forsake)’, and a properly wooze-inducing enigma on the nine minute denouement ‘Ruthless’ - a crumbling epic that centres negative space, splicing field recordings with instrumental strums. When a song does eventually appear from those embers, it’s like a queered response to Grouper’s enduring ‘Heavy Water’ as though perceived through layer upon layer of gauzy saturation. It all makes for a supremely unusual and engrossing listen, and provides further proof, if needed, that LA Timpa is an elemental force all of their own, a vital part of South London’s eminently watchable new musical ecology.