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Marisa Anderson/William Tyler - Lost Futures Music Album Reviews

Marisa Anderson/William Tyler - Lost Futures Music Album Reviews
Evoking the landscapes of the American Southwest, these peaceful guitar duets find the duo tapping into the serene, timeless quality of the instrument.

In the promotional trailer for his 2016 opus Modern Country, William Tyler ominously declared, “We stand at the precipice of the twilight of empire.” Ever the storyteller, Tyler plays guitar just like he talks: an amused, if weary, witness to the decline of Western civilization, the sole documentarian of its dying beauty. The five intervening years since Modern Country certainly haven’t challenged Tyler’s notion that the American experiment is tailspinning out of control, and Lost Futures, a lovely collaboration with fellow instrumental guitarist Marisa Anderson, embodies that sense of hope in persevering through chaos. The album finds both guitarists refining their craft to its most essential properties, tapping into the serene, timeless qualities of the instrument.

Recorded in Anderson’s adopted hometown of Portland as the George Floyd protests were turning the city into a hotbed of unrest, Lost Futures’ seemingly peaceful sketches are infused with a subtle sense of doom. Named after Mark Fisher’s hauntological concept of “lost futures”—the better worlds we may never know now as our lives succumb to a prison of endless nostalgia—the album finds Tyler and Anderson flipping through their own personal histories, returning to the barebones acoustic style that both guitarists built their names on. For Tyler in particular, Lost Futures is the most traditional music he’s made in some time; after new agey releases, textural experiments in ambient music, and sparse film score work for Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, it’s refreshing to hear that he is still capable of wielding melody like a cartographer’s quill, summoning vast landscapes with each run of the fretboard.

Anderson and Tyler are natural collaborators, with quick, clean styles of fingerpicking that can sound equally complex and effortless. For much of Lost Futures, restraint is the name of the game. “News About Heaven” is as enchanting for its simple, sighing chords as it is for the faint bells that seem to twinkle in the edge of the frame. “Haunted by Water” plays like a Led Zeppelin roots-rock ballad slowly coming to life, its riffs gradually accumulating weight as they roll down some imagined dusky freeway. The whole album conjures the barren, sandstone hills of the Southwest, thanks in no small part to the violin and quijada work from Gisela Rodriguez Fernandez and Patricia Vázquez Gómez. At times, however, the feeling of pastiche sets in, like Tyler and Anderson are remembering passages from some great American epic rather than writing a new one themselves. The galloping two-note riff of “Something Will Come” feels like a nod to krautrock, a common influence in Tyler’s work, but it fails to materialize over the course of its droning six minutes: a sustained prelude searching for a point.

On their solo records, Tyler and Anderson might fill the extra space with thumbed bass notes or dizzying flurries of melody, but here their interplay rounds out the picture. As a result, these songs don’t have the same mythical grandeur as Tyler’s best work, or the same unfurling experimentalism of Anderson’s. Instead, they play like a wandering search for peace, with both artists turning to their guitars—and to each other—as a respite against a country that seemed to be tearing itself apart. Lost Futures forecasts that the road ahead is dark, and sometimes folk tales are the only thing that can make the night less bleak.
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Marisa Anderson/William Tyler - Lost Futures Music Album Reviews Marisa Anderson/William Tyler - Lost Futures Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, September 03, 2021 Rating: 5

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