Lymbyc Systym: Shutter Release
Mush Records

Why mince words? Shutter Release, Lymbyc Systym's follow-up to its first album Love Your Abuser, is, simply put, great. The brothers Bell—Jared (banjo, glockenspeil, guitars, keyboards) and Michael (drums, percussion, programmed beats)—serve up ten instrumental jewels in a svelte forty-two minutes, are as comfortable sculpting panoramic landscapes as they are nuanced meditations, and eschew cheap theatrics for arrangements that are both rich and tasteful. While the Arizonan siblings handle keyboards and drums duties, guests such as trumpeter Kevin Tangney, guitarist Jeff Zeigler (Arc in Round), and violinist Chris Tignor (Slow Six) flesh out the material with considerable sonic colour. The album's melodically distinguished set-pieces may invite the ‘post-rock' categorization but go a long way towards distancing themselves from any one-dimensional pigeon-holing.

A robust drum pattern from Michael inaugurates the opener “Trichromatic” after which a twanging electric guitar theme by Zeigler dreamily opens the floodgates for trumpet playing by Tangney and an increasingly celebratory attack. Zeigler re-appears on “Ghost Clock” alongside contributions from cellist Dylan Reick and violinist Tignor that elevate the tune's already euphoric vibe. An elegant flugelhorn-and-vibes front line sets the title track on its way before Zeigler's guitar joins in to kick the tune up a couple of notches in the epic department. With glockenspiel and violin voicing the composition's stirring theme, “Interiors” opts for graceful unfurl in its slow-motion rendering, while Tignor's graceful playing gives “Teddy” emotional heft. Lymbyc Systym's sound may occasionally suggest connections to other lauded outfits—“T-Ball,” for example, (due in no small part to its banjo playing) could fit snugly onto Balmorhea's All is Wild, All is Silent (and wouldn't you know, Balmorhea's Michael Muller plays acoustic guitar on the serenading closer “Late Night Classic”)—but Shutter Release ultimately stands strongly all by its lonesome.

January 2010