Instrumental doom trio Lathe spill dusty, sunburnt melodies, tales on warm ‘Tongue of Silver’

Photo by Daniel Regner

Evening is coming, your blood pressure finally is starting to slow down, and you need to wash in the early darkness because everything you’ve seen today has been too much to absorb. You just want somewhere to rest as you watch the colors in the sky turn into different shades before it all is devoured by the darkness, the only time where you feel secure.

I got that whole vibe from “Tongue of Silver,” the debut full-length of Americana/drone instrumental trio Lathe, who have created an album that makes me think of the finest elements of Earth, Murder By Death, and Pittsburgh power trio the Long Hunt. The band—guitarist/bassist/organist Tyler Davis, pedal steel player/guitarist Eric Paltell, drummer Flynn Diguardia—uses these eight songs to weave together separate vignettes, stories that you can imagine in your own mind as there are no words to guide you. It’s the soundtrack to that time of day I describe in the opening, the perfect companion to reflecting on your pain and suffering as whatever substances you need to relax make their way through your brain. Hey, life is fucked.  

“Vinegar” starts introducing you to the warm pedal steel guitar that’s such a welcome and dominant factor on this record, mixing with the slinking bass and keys dripping, leaving condensation on your windows. Dusty and sunburnt, the playing flows into moody darkness, basking in shadows before rumbling into the night. “Drain” moves in with gothy organs and guitars swimming as the tempo kicks into gear. The pace keeps playing games, luring you in before shaking you, then the drumming comes to life, splintering to the finish. “Heat Wave” brings moody heat, the guitars shimmering and floating, burning through your senses. Your flesh burns as the playing steadily drives, moving further into soaking heat that eventually dissolves. “Rodeo Fumes” opens with engines revving and soaring before the drums go off, and the drama increases. The playing is faster and trudges in spots, increasing the pressure as guitars snake through, drowning out in thick static.

“351W” is a shorter track, almost like an interlude with cataclysmic noise, drone clouds lowering to the earth, crumbling into the atmosphere and spilling into “Cauliflower” that brings bluesy hell that gently rolls over the land, the smoke driving behind it all. Guitars explode and flood as psychedelic power multiplies, the heat intensifies, and the fog finally dissipates. “Journey to the East” moves in with sounds reverberating and a hypnotic haze, the playing swelling and gusting. A heavy psyche atmosphere gets more intense, the music darts toward space, and the melodies rest in the sunset. Closer “Morris” lands with heavy drone, burly muscles, and the guitars creating a glaze. The sounds avalanche as the playing scorches, organs drip into the ground, and the final moments evaporate.

“Tongue of Silver” is an adventure from start to finish, as Lathe carve out these cinematic instrumentals that fill your mind with rich visuals that take you somewhere else. These songs would be perfect at sunset as the light slowly disappears from the sky, and the horizons are baked in oranges and purples. This record was a revelation from the first time I heard it, and it’s sure to take on a new life of its own every time I take this adventure.

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