gullbuy music review



The Absence of Blight


Dial Records


Lawrence CD coverWhen I got the first album by Lawrence (self-titled), I remember listening to it on a balcony under the stars on Cape Cod. Some of these tracks were majestic. They had a warmth usually not found in 4/4 beat electronic music. But then, it wasn’t just 4/4 electronic music. The album strayed from this formula often enough to keep it off the dance floors and in your head. There was even an early 80’s / Durutti Column / Five or Six / Cherry Red-ish element at play in some of the melodies. It also had an ambient, Boards of Canada-like feeling, but different. Deep ambient IDM house? Never mind.

For the second album, Lawrence, a.k.a. Peter M Kersten, falls back on the 4/4 house beats more than on the first. This is something I typically have a big aversion to. Honestly, I never liked house music at all. Nonetheless, I found myself drawn into this album. I was able to put aside the biases and listen beyond the beats. And this was pretty rewarding.

The rich, composed progressions and melodies on this album take it outside the norm of anything I’ve heard from Kompakt – or for that matter, most of what I’ve heard in these genres. For the first half of the album, there’s an air of suspense that runs through the melodies. There’s also an brand of unpredictability that’s rarely found in these parts. The keyboard lines swim around a resolve while surrounded in warm ambient beds. There’s something slightly dated sounding about the sound. If someone told me this were recorded in 2000, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But what the album may lack in progressive stylings and ear candy, it more than makes up for in substance. Many of the tracks here reminds me a lot of Bola (Skam Records). In fact, a lot of this reminds me of the early Fax and Skam recordings, without being totally derivative. There’s also a lot more composition and a lot less looping going on than either of those labels typically brought forth.

‘The Absence of Blight’ gets more interesting towards the end and the songs become more memorable. The suspense is subverted by a calming resolve. It’s an excellent late-night listen for when you’re not quite ready to turn in with ambience but want something to soothe the atmosphere.

The album actually peaks on the last two tracks, when it becomes more dynamic and the melodies are so beautiful, it moves from background music to an engaging soundtrack. When he relies less on loops and tried/true methods, Lawrence creates some of the most interesting and beautiful electronic music on the scene. This is where he thrived on the first album and where the new songs work best. There are moments on this album of sheer brilliance – on par with the best of Bola or Boards of Canada. That said, I look forward to bringing ‘The Absense of Blight’ out to the balcony this summer for a true test.

Recommended: 9, 10, 5, 1, 8

---Brian, March 30, 2004