Sounds: Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel [ambient]

Ambient meditations are post-war timeless. Think the Berlin-trilogy-era sound experimentalism that Brian Eno turned Bowie onto in the late ’70s, spacing out the latter halves of ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes.’ It probably goes back to Cage—but you don’t have to know where things come from to enjoy (and make) them.

Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel is an improvising duo from Atlanta Georgia who has performed extensively nationally and internationally for the past 14 years. They are too well described by their own moniker to merit a headcount or instrument breakdown—Scott Burland is the thereminist, Frank Schultz the lap steelist. For ‘Maelstrom’, a track from their recent release ‘Halocline,’ they’re joined by Dane Waters on vocals.

Like a real-life halocline, the pulse of ‘Maelstrom’ is blurry but beautiful—a repetitive swell followed by a fade, a crescendo-descrescendo dynamic doppler reminiscent of sitting on a sleeping giant. The build is subtle, with Waters vocals contributing some frailty to the formidableness of the theremin/lap steel sound mountains.

And it does feel timeless. Maybe one listener recalls German sobriety, another American insanity. But the waves and wash of Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel’s ‘Maelstrom’ feels like it’s own sort of canvas, of and other from forebearers.

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