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  LANTERNA w/ Miles Tilmann  
  The Eyedrum  
  Atlanta, GA  
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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 club.

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 people.

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 Tilmann out.

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 appropriate.

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.

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