AMN Reviews: Ligeia Mare – Amplifier (2015; Bandcamp)

Featuring members of innovative Colorado-based progressive rock groups Thinking Plague and Hamster Theater, Ligeia Mare released their third album, Amplifier, in late April. This offering can be roughly characterized as a blending of electric Miles, the esthetic of Derek Bailey, fellow avant-grade outfit Biota, and perhaps the aforementioned groups.

The album features Ron Miles, Mark Harris, Raoul Rossiter, Elaine Di Falco, Dave Willey, and Farrell Lowe playing various string, wind, and percussion instruments, as well as contributing voices. While the group focuses on instrumentation (as opposed to electronic manipulation), the recordings themselves are often as much sound collages as anything else. Particularly, the cornerstone of Ligeia Mare is collective, open improvisation, with tracks eschewing typical melodic development or overarching themes. The emphasis instead is on textural and structural components, pulling strange and unexpected sounds from combinations of instruments. As a result, it is often difficult to determine what is being played when, but ultimately that isn’t important. The combination of free improvisation, progressive rock, Rock in Opposition, and weird Americana implies a certain lack of precision. There is no literal or idiomatic interpretation that does Amplifier justice – the group defines its own musical identity.

Ligeia Mare, in the interplanetary sense, is a large body of water found on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. As scientists speculate the types of alien lifeforms that could possibly exist therein, we need not go further than Ligeia Mare the band to hear sounds of an alien nature. Well done.

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