December 05, 2002

Lanterna "Sands"

A visit through the scrapbook of ambient music is what we have here. Henry Frayne's been making some really nice instrumental music for nearly a decade, a sound that's been the healthy blending of effects and guitar strumming, and you can't help but find this sound agreeable. Last year's album Elm Street was a nice collection of songs, but when you make music as delicate and nondescript as this, sometimes it simply slips into background noise.

Not so with Sands. I have to give Frayne some real credit here, because ambient music is perhaps the most limited musical style, and even then it almost all goes back to Eno. What makes Sands so amazing is that he's never really idle enough with his styles to form a rut. From reverbed guitar to effected guitar to who knows what, he makes a very big sound using, as the notes inform us, "guitar, voice, and claves" and additional assistance by Steve Day on "rhythm tracks." At times, Sands travels through a majestic Harold Buddian underwater kingdom ("Sands"), flies through the heavens like the lost angel child of Guthrie and Raymonde ("Greek Island"), or just walks alone in the forest, contemplating nature ("Lonely").

Instrumental music can be a challenge, but Sands is never anything less than an utter pleasure of a record. Everyone has a record in their collection that is used for the sole purpose of winding down, and Sands is certainly a balm that works well to soothe the aching soul. Henry Franye may not want to be the next Yanni or John Tesh, but he's certainly made a record that would easily topple those two New Age rock stars. Lanterna is new age music for the new generation of NPR listeners, and I for one am hoping Frayne gets some really good just deserts for it, too.

--Joseph Kyle

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