The first time I heard L’Altra’s debut album Music of a Sinking Occasion, I recalled an image of my more spirited self in the throes of a mushroom trip.
I wandered through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco just after a rainstorm, noticing aspects of people and plants that are often overlooked in ordinary perception. My wondrous attention to detail seemed to slow the passing of time, so when the drug eventually wore off, I felt like I had lived a year’s worth of thoughts in six hours. To a similarly tuned ear, the soothingly spacious strains of Music of a Sinking Occasion can essentially achieve the same results. L’Altra generates this expansive atmosphere with often little more than a tone from a Rhodes keyboard, the strum of a guitar, a mournful trace of cello or piano, a brush on an open snare that would make Lee Harris of Talk Talk proud, and, of course, the anodyne harmonies of vocalists Lindsay Anderson and Joseph Costa. For those looking for comparisons, imagine a collaboration between the members of Bark Psychosis (circa 1994’s album Hex) and the vocalists from Low. However, L’Altra’s true kinship with these bands is the manner in which its warm, tranquil music allows just enough latitude between the restrained instrumentation and plaintive voices to reward listeners with an eerily familiar soundtrack to their thoughts, as well as an opportunity to weave their own stories between them. Music of a Sinking Occasion is an album for looking inward and paying attention.