Jun 28, 2021
By Mark Moody
Canadian artists and partners, Romy Lightman (Tasseomancy) and Yves Jarvis, have teamed up for the debut of their side project, Lightman Jarvis Ecstatic Band. Recorded at Ontario’s Tree Museum, which was founded by Lightman’s aunt and where Jarvis has previously recorded, the undertakings here are about as compelling as the word play of the album’s title, Banned, linking to the group’s name. Or the further pun of single, “Elastic Band,” relating to Ecstatic Band. In other words, not very compelling.
The 15 tracks here are characterized primarily by Jarvis’ heavily treated guitar work that bears comparison to earlier era experimentalist Adrian Belew and his flange effects. Lightman takes lead on most of the vocals, with Jarvis’ voice intertwining, but both pushed down in the mix. Opening track “Olamim” is a fair representation of the meandering approach of most of the album, where there is limited variation over the course of the song and little to latch on to. There are a handful of brighter spots, like the accelerated pace of “Bone of a Hound,” or the skittering sound loop that underpins “Red Champa,” which gives the track more heft. The latter track is reminiscent of Jarvis’ latest solo album, and all the better for it.
The crashing drums of “Elastic Band” recall label mate, Tom Waits’ “Trouble’s Braids,” and “Slick Oil” bears strong resemblance to Brian Eno and David Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’ standout track, “Mea Culpa,” but neither song musters up the energy of those groundbreaking forebears. In spite of some nearly 40-year-old touch points, Banned breaks no new ground itself, and most of the album’s tracks, such as “Lift My Heart” and “Stomach Pit,” feel much longer than they are, which carries over to the album itself.
Banned’s air of experimentation mixed with the artists’ ardent eccentricities fails to materialize into much worth noting. As with most tales of “here’s what I did on my summer vacation,” only those who participated are likely to have much interest in what transpired. (www.lightmanjarvisecstaticband.bandcamp.com)
Author rating: 5/10
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