Adrian Lane: Branches Never Remember
Preserved Sound

Adrian Lane and William Ryan Fritch would appear to be kindred spirits. Each artist plays a staggering number of instruments, exhibits a clear affection for age-old instruments, and assembles compositions layer by layer with the aid of laptop-related gear. On Branches Never Remember, his third album for the Krakow, Poland-based Preserved Sound label, Lane is credited with alto and baritone bowed psalteries, acoustic guitar, violin, banjo, jangu, zither, glockenspiel, and piano (he's joined on five of the album's fourteen tracks by Wil Procter on frame drums). Interestingly, Lane is a painter by profession who often works on music and paintings concurrently—a detail that naturally suggests parallels between the creative endeavours, an obvious one being the gradual, intuitive manner by which a creative work comes to assume its final form.

It takes but a moment for Lane's affection for medieval music to declare itself, which it does when the title track opens the album with a stately waltz-styled meditation shimmering with acoustic colour and supported by Procter's percussive accompaniment. Lane's interests extend beyond a single form, however, with subsequent pieces threading folk and classical elements into the album material. The presence of banjo on “A Clear Stage and No Favour” lends it a rustic country flavour that locates Lane's world far away from the bustle of a modern city.

As demonstrated by representative pieces such as “The Discarded Key” and “Hope Moves Forward,” the psalteries give Lane's material an especially distinguishing character, even if piano and violin figure as prominently. But as stimulating as they are on purely sonic grounds, his pieces impress as much for their compositional value. Like Fritch, Lane has an uncommon gift for weaving melodic patterns into finessed constructions that, in Lane's case, are typically stately and often melancholy (a title like “The Leaves Are Falling Early This Year” conveys the latter all by itself). Rich in evocative detail, “The High Crooked Blue” and “Hope Moves Forward” are like gothic short stories from the 1800s come to life, while “No More Lost Chances” might just be the album's most haunting piece. An echo of Erik Satie can sometimes can be glimpsed in Lane's stirring constructions, nowhere more conspicuously than during the one-minute vignette “The Puzzle Begins,” but as a composer Lane's generally his own man.

June 2015