Iâ€™ve been traveling for the past several weeks (not doing anything notable, just moving from place to place in a semi-ritualistic way), and as a result I havenâ€™t listened to much music lately, let alone written much in the way of reviews. But there were plenty of contemplative episodes â€“ night trains and dusky airplane flights, ferries across foggy straits, hikes through giant fir and pine forests. Bryter Layter is the kind of thing I would have loved to have playing during those solitary, lightly transcendent moments. Which is also to say that itâ€™s a wonderful entry back into musical society, as it were.
Comprised of the highly-respected synth musicians Joseph Raglani and Mike Pollard (Arbor Records), Bryter Layter is further refining the extraordinary synth music currents pioneered by groups like Popol Vuh, which have moved from fearsomely new ways of music-making into a more canonical thing, making it tempting to view BLâ€™s analog synth mastery as mere vintage-fetish tomfoolery. But this would ignore their masterful lyricism â€“ in both note and timbre â€“ that both deepens and somehow lightens those menacing early works, putting the focus on beauty rather than power.