A few years ago i ordered a sampler from Dewdrops Records because
it contained Touch Upon Touch, which turned out to be
the last song Cocteau Twins ever released. After the CT song
on the disc, there was an amazing track by a band called Lanterna.
I liked that track so much that i spent some time finding out
about this band.
Lanterna is Henry Frayne, who used to be involved in Area and
The Moon Seven Times, both of which were Champaign, IL shoegazer
bands. Lanterna is a heavily delayed guitar project, and the
first album was stunningly beautiful.
So i was kinda pumped to go see Lanterna in concert. As an
added bonus, the openers were two Sub:marine Records acts that
i had been grooving to: stillife;gaijin,
and Miles Tilmann. So it seemed like a good night all around.
I arrived at The Eyedrum at 10:45, expecting to have some time
to look at the "art" at The Eyedrum before music started. No
such luck -- stillife;gaijin had already played, and Miles Tilmann
was in the process of setting up his electronic gear when i
arrived. One of these days i will make a stillife;gaijin show....
This show was actually the final event at the old Eyedrum space
-- they have moved to a new location. Rather than make everyone
cram into the basement, they had the bands set up in a corner
of the upstairs. Chairs had been set out, which is good because
the show was a mostly mellow, low-key affair. I would say that
there was a good 50 people there, not bad for a really small
I wandered over to the merchandise table to pick up the new
Lanterna disc (which i have been unable to find in record stores
here in ATL), and wound up spending 15 minutes or so talking
with Mr. Frayne. If you go see Lanterna in concert, you can't
miss him -- he is the REALLY tall thin, older (hey -- he's been
doing music since the 80's) guy in the glasses. And he's really
friendly to talk to, so go say hi to him.
I grabbed a seat near the stage area just before Miles Tilmann
started playing. He had bunch of electronic gear set up on two
tables, including 2 Mac Powerbooks, a drum machine, and a keyboard.
Tilmann himself is a tallish, younger-looking fellow -- he looks
like a computer nerd, and i should know because work with those
He started to play right around 11, using his computers to
pump out mostly ambient music. Some of the tracks had some beats,
but mostly it was a washed out relaxing sound that poured from
the speakers. If you like mellower electronica, check Miles
What i especially liked about this show was that i could see
Tilmann at work. I was able to sit there, listening to his wonderful
noise, and watch him click mouses, play keys, and fiddle with
the machines. I felt that i really could understand what was
going on: the one laptop had beat loops on it, the other had
drones, and the keyboard added melody over top of that when
From a musical perspective, it was fascinating to watch Tilmann
work. I felt more "in touch" with this electronic performance
than with some others that i had seen because i was able to
witness the causal connection between what the artist was doing
and the music. However, seeing this made me realize something:
electronica is inherently un-sexy. That is, what Tilmann was
doing on stage looked remarkably like what i do at work -- mostly
moving and clicking the mouse. Sure, the output of Tilmann's
mouse activity was more interesting than the corporate swill
most of us produce, but still -- it's almost the same thing.
Tilmann performed a 40 minute set. All really nice ambient
drones with the occasional beat. I really enjoyed the music,
so much so that i went and purchased his new Sub:marine release.
Apparently Tilmann is from Chicago, so if you see his name on
a marquee in that city i urge you to check him out.
It took Tilmann a while to take down his gear, but fortunately
it took almost no time for Henry Frayne to set up. His amps
were there the whole time, and all he really had to do was tune
his guitar and set up his pedals.
Lanterna began playing at around midnight with an apology at
the "late hour". Midnight and the headliner was on stage --
that's really good for a Friday in Atlanta.
And then he started to play: strummed guitar fed through delay
and many effects creating an ambient wash of guitarwork. The
songs ebbed and flowed in an almost organic nature, and i was
struck by how good of a combination Tilmann and Lanterna made.
Sure, they made their music in very different ways, but the
overall effect is very similar: relaxing waves of sound.
Lanterna played for about an hour. Mostly it was just guitar,
but sometimes he played along with drum loops on tape, and i
think there was a bass part on the tape that he played along
with at one point. He played several pieces that i recognized
from the first Lanterna disc, as well as a lot of new stuff.
Lanterna's music almost borders on "new age" -- it's really
light and echo-ey. It relaxes you, and yet at the same time
it seems amazingly upbeat. I suppose that means that he sculpts
the sound out of major chords.
It was a lovely performance and the crowd reacted quite positively.
But after an hour it was time to go. The light music had made
me sleepy, and when Lanterna began to pack up his guitar, i
left to drive home. A very good night.