AMN Reviews: Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel – Halocline (2020; Bandcamp)

Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel (DfTaLS) is a fairly descriptive name, as the group consists of Scott Burland on Theremin and Frank Schultz on lap steel. Halocline is the latest of about 40 releases featuring this duet or related outfits. Technically, they are trio here, as Dane Waters joins on vocals. But don’t expect the traditional sci-fi sounds of the Theremin or the country twang of steel guitar. Instead, DfTaLS generates a heavily improvised, spaced out strain of ambient that probably has more in common with the Berlin School than anything else.

Case in point, the Halocline features expansive, soaring soundscapes, not unlike those of early-era Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream. The differences here are largely wordless vocals replacing the sequencers and an underlying darkness pervading most of the tracks. Indeed, the two main instruments are played to blend together to the point where they can be difficult to tell apart. Thus, taken in one sense, this is a cinematic, cosmic album. But upon additional listens, the contributions of each instrument can be roughly identified to reveal layers of detail lurking beneath the surface. Throughout most tracks, Waters offers throaty, operatic singing that blends with or accentuates the Theremin and lap steel, adding further layers.

Don’t hesitate to download this recording, as all of the proceeds generated via Bandcamp will be donated to Giving Kitchen and the Atlanta Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund.

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