Music of a Sinking Occasion

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L'altra's Music of a Sinking Occasion is a remarkable concoction of many different Chicago styles of the '90s. From jazz to avant garde to post-rock to slowcore, L'altra makes themselves heard in the most beautiful manner. Music of a Sinking Occasion breaks away with the majestic drum'n'bass/free jazz title track but almost immediately curbs itself in favor of slowing things down for the glorious "Little Chair," featuring soft, hollow vocals by Lindsay Anderson and Joseph Costa. L'altra has a distinct sense of withdrawal, leading the listener to the edge then quickly pulling back and shooting off in another direction. The plot wanders but with seamless recovery, always certain of where it's been and where it's going -- just taking its time to get there. With marvelously subdued production, Music of a Sinking Occasion takes listeners on a very sad trip down memory lane where cymbals crash and drums thump heavily but never seem louder than a whisper in the listener's ear. The orchestration is reveling as L'altra mixes vibes, clarinet, and brushed snare but, unexpectedly, they do not sound jazzy. When they aim for jazz, they enlist Isotope 217's Rob Mazurek to take care of horn duties (for which he does a wonderful job). A brilliant exercise in restraint and direction and ultimately a fine record.

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