Lali Puna: Our Inventions (Morr)
Lali Puna started off as a strange little bedroom-sounding project in the late 90s, quietly surfacing with the short but sweet Tridecoder album on the then-fledgling Morr Music label. They were easily the most “pop” thing to appear at the time on the label, which then was focused primarily on instrumental IDM in its most quintessential sound – post-Autechre melancholy melodies and Boards of Canada-esque washes of hazy sunshine. With the albums that followed, Lali Puna came into its own as a proper band, borrowing more and more from the indie-rock crossover territory of band member Markus Acher’s primary project The Notwist. Faking the Books in 2004 signaled a nearly-complete metamorphosis into a live-friendly project, with most of its tracks dominated by guitar and more traditional drum arrangements. It was their most solid effort of songwriting but also their most unsurprising in the context of the music around them at the time. It’s somewhat satisfying then that after a long hiatus they’ve released an album that sidesteps any of the assumptions one may have drawn from their past trajectory. Our Inventions is not a rock album at all. In fact, if there is any guitar on it, it’s heavily processed and mixed low. Most of the music here is understated and undulating, full of repetitive chord samples, keyboards and chimes. There are a few little fun details here and there such as the vaguely street flutter of the intro of “Move On,” lending it an edge before it breaks into a sweet chorus of regret. But mostly this album shares the same strangely monochromatic appeal of their earlier days, bridging the gap between the lower budget electronics of Tridecoder, the drowsy pop of Scary World Theory and the more organic arrangements of Faking the Books but without the rock n’ roll. It’s a sleeper, to be sure, but another sterling entry into the group’s œuvre.