field report no.041917

LOCATION: the Mothlight AVL.NC
SUBJECT: New Rain Duets by Mac McCaughan & Mary Lattimore

OBSERVATIONS:
Such a little thing can make such a difference…Billing this concert by Mac McCaughan and Mary Lattimore as 'an evening of semi-improvised music for harp and analog synthesizer' set all the wrong expectations. It might seem trifling to prefer a more accurate variation, like 'post-rock-tinged, ambient instrumentals', but the distinction matters. The tools to judge improvised music and ambient composition are vastly different. As the latter, it was a surprisingly successful set.

Mac McCaughan is indie-rock royalty: leader of Superchunk and Portastatic and co-founder of Merge Records—one of the most stalwart independent labels around. His latest release was a swell set of synth-driven, lower-case pop tunes. Here, he manned a handful of analogue synthesizers. I was not familiar with Mary Lattimore going into the evening, but she's featured on labels from small cassette outfits to the established electronica purveryor, Ghostly International. Their structures allowed some spontaneity—they managed to surprise each other a couple of times throughout the evening. While the format, perhaps, didn't play squarely into either artists' strengths, it's especially rewarding to see established artists willing to work outside their lane. 

NOTES: Mac McCaughan / Mary Lattimore duet; Oriana
PRESENT: AMS