Review: L&M – Recordings 11.1.2020 – 2.1.2021 (self-released, Jun 29)

Though—unless I’m just way behind on the times, which is far from unheard of—Liam Herb and Milo Moyer-Battick may be unfamiliar names to many readers, their ambitious debut release as L&M has the density and surety of something that would be produced by musicians decades into their careers or seasoned collaborators already perfectly in tune with one another. I don’t know how long the Berkeley dwellers have been working together (presumably at least as far back as November), but Recordings 11.1.2020 – 2.1.2021, a self-described “two-part musical revue exploring themes of youth, the passage of time, everyday sounds, and play [not the Derrida kind—the fun kind],” is somehow at once wide-eyed, charismatically clumsy premiere and skillful, meticulous opus… the various freeform jams that seep throughout the two sides, performed with various items from the “selected list of instruments” and beyond, are often quite aimless-sounding in their polymorphic meditations, and yet they still always seem to be going somewhere, bolstered along by both external forces—a burp, a whispered instruction, a munched apple, the swelling wash of waves on the beach—and some mysterious, innate kinetic energy. Also peppered atop and between the improvised excursions are some vivid sonic nodes of humanity, which range from a cautionary “hey, watch that beer” to rambunctious children singing and reciting obscure jokes and fixations ad nauseam. They are often fleeting, transitory, or even artificial elements within the music, stuffed where they don’t really fit and subject to warping, mutation, etc., as when the aforementioned warning repeats or the unnamed young person’s rendition of “God Bless America” becomes a time-dilated monstrosity. Even more vibrant and colorful than its packaging, Recordings is a phenomenal first effort from this exciting new duo. It feels fitting to post this on the exact anniversary of the date noted by the final track, “7.5.2020”—although I wish the fireworks last night could have been similarly muffled.

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