The opening to “Luminous” is simple, with only the guitar and drums being audible in this instrumental track. There is enough differentiation between those two’s interaction that individuals can maintain their interest throughout. The extended length of the track (pushing well over 6 minutes) is a gamble, as the band might lose fans if they do not keep things up to snuff on this track. The band pushes it a slight bit with this instrumental opening to “Desert Ocean”, but at the same time creates a starting point for the band. The fact that “Venture” starts with the same rich time of instrumentation shows that the band is trying to work on top of this aforementioned framework.
There is a vocal presence on this disc, as the guitars have a vocal quality that is hard for them to move away from. Nor should they necessarily want to move away from this style; “Venture” has Lanterna moving away from the indie rock stylings that were present during “Luminous” and into something more in the vein of alt-country. Very few completely-instrumental discs work, and even fewer today do than during the heady days of the nineties, when acts like Enigma and Enya were creating ground-shaking albums. Lanterna is one of those acts that can make this style work in the current period. To expect thought that this album will be completed in one listening is a little much, as “Desert Ocean’s” near hour runtime is magnified by the lack of vocals.
The instrumentation is like a meandering river in the sense that the band is not trying to force a specific style on listeners; everything is presented in a “take it or leave it” manner. Lanterna plods along until the end of the disc, and starts over, sometimes building on the prior track but generally pushing forward to another variation on their general style. When the band moves into a slightly harder vein of rock, as is the case during “Surf”, Lanterna is able to show that they have the chops present to even play with the most noted bands of their generation. Sure, they play a brand of instrumental music, but where they may be lacking in a vocal sense they make up for seriously in an arrangement sense. Here’s to hoping that Lanterna are able to keep working in this genre to create more in the way of instrumental music that is not the quality only to be used as a sleep aid.
Top Track: Fog, Surf
Lanterna – Desert Ocean / 2006 Jemez Mountain / 10 Tracks / http://www.lanterna.tv / http://www.jemezmountain.com / Reviewed 20 July 2006