Album Review: Laucan – FramesPerSecond

By on Friday, 28th July 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Laucan FramesPerSecond coverLewes native and singer/songwriter Laucan, aka Laurence Galpin, has had a busy 2017 already. He was signed to Rob da Bank’s record label Sunday Best early in the year, ahead of an appearance in Austin for SXSW 2017 and an EP release in March. In a surprisingly quick turnaround, Laucan has now released a full length album titled ‘FramesPerSecond’. However, one listen to the album reveals that there’s nothing precipitous about the music it contains.

To use Laucan’s own analogy, the frame rate of this album is slow, but deliberately so. The overall mood is cinematically shadowy, like a classic black and white film. But that’s not to say that the songs lack colour. The somber minor-key sonic palette is consistent throughout, but the instrumental arrangements provide a variety of subtle tones and textures. Opening track ‘Wait for the Impact’ is a suitably anticipatory beginning, setting the stage for the rest of the album to unfold. Laucan’s delicate falsetto narrates “I just write down what I see” as if from a distance, while the guitar melody becomes more insistent and the instrumental texture grows more solid under the lines, “tomorrow I’ll gather my strength and go out / everything tells me I should leave the house.”

Suitably enough, ‘Up Tomorrow’ is a realisation of that promise, opening with ambient birdsong behind Laucan’s echoing vocals. The song’s dynamic builds gradually as “sunlight pours through the doorway, picks out patterns the floor”. Graceful strings and percussion round out the musical arrangement, anchoring the otherwise ethereal soundscape. ‘Just Off the Old Kent Road’ is a more traditional folk ballad, featuring a deftly moving guitar figure under Galpin’s lower-register vocals. His singing voice is a bit nasal here, and slightly mumbled, but his lyrics are captivating in their reminiscence: “I caught a smile, a sparkle of Indian eyes in an English autumn”. Instrumental title track ‘FramesPerSecond’ is perhaps the most strikingly beautiful piece of music on the album, and the one that best demonstrates Laucan’s underlying compositional skill. Rich in tone color and rhythmic counterpoint, the evolution of the sounds is almost tangible, unfolding slowly but in discrete segments, like time lapse photography.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/a1mX-0UjS38[/youtube]

Despite its title, ‘Miss Mistiness’ is brighter in tone than much of what precedes it, and its repeated lyrical lines (“your voice, it came to me / it rose off the surface of the sea) are more immediately accessible. Its shimmering quality keeps it from feeling out of place, as it provides a mellow moment of relaxation in the midst of all the surrounding dramatic tension. Early single ‘Symptom’ retreats back into the shadows with an anxious guitar ostinato under a brooding string melody and Laucan’s yearning falsetto. The album closes with another more straightforward folk ballad, ‘The Tree (Came Down)’. It’s a uniquely fitting title for a song that brings Laucan back to his musical roots, so to speak. The comparative simplicity of this arrangement highlights another facet of his musicianship, while his frank lyrical statements make a stark emotional impact after the opaque and mysterious nature of the earlier songs.

The individual songs on ‘FramesPerSecond’ are expansive and exploratory, showcasing the stylistic versatility in Laucan’s songwriting and composition. He wisely sticks to a small, but carefully chosen range of instrumental timbres, so that the variety in the songs is balanced by a nice overall sense of cohesion. Laucan’s debut might lack a strong sense of direction, but its ephemeral nature is still somehow enticing.

7.5/10

Laucan’s debut album ‘FramesPerSecond’ is out now on Sunday Best. He will play an album launch show at London’s Waiting Room on the 15th of August, as well as appearing at the Moseley Folk Festival in Birmingham on the 1st of September. TGTF’s previous coverage of Laucan, in the context of his appearance at SXSW 2017, is collected back here.

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