Published in 1818, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly’s groundbreaking novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus took a new look at life and death, with each character’s inner darkness or light shining. In subtle ways, Lore City’s third album Alchemical Task parallels elements of such ideas. Following up 2014’s Kill Your Dreams, the Portland, Oregon-based duo of Laura Mariposa Williams (vocals, keyboard, guitar) and Eric Angelo Bessel (percussion, keyboard, guitar) found art-rock vibes as a perfect place to begin their entry into the pandemic soundtrack.
In six songs, Alchemical Task is a journey reminiscent of the sonic textures heard during the early days of Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics, yet more haunting. These songs are mostly lyrically or rhythmically driven, with the structure of this music relying on chant-like qualities. It’s hypnotic in essence. Opening with “Separateness,” listeners can tell there’s something different going on here. The track is rhythmic and soothing, with its harmonic synthesizer bass haunting the march onward. “It’s All Happening” seems like a sonic resignation to some truth.
“Beacon of Light” shifts towards the light, yet reinforces the notion that we all are born of both dark and light moments. Stunningly beautiful in its brief moment, the song marks a transition for this record. To say Williams soars as a vocalist on “Into the Blue” is an understatement. Her style and substance bring to mind the GoGos’ Belinda Carlisle, with rich emotions bleeding through each note. Heading towards the end of this musical story, “Beyond Done” is perfection as an epitaph for the year 2020. Deeply beautiful, its tense restraint is a testament to the vision of the album.
Lore City’s album Alchemical Task may not be music for the masses. However, fans looking for a breath of fresh air who gravitate toward atypical bands (like Charming Disaster, who I reviewed earlier this year) may find in this album that missing piece of musical creativity, understated and purposeful in each note.–Lisa Whealy