The ninth track on Julian Lynch’s LP, Terra, is called “Disappointment.” The song thankfully does not live up to its title, for this track is rather beautiful, strumming along with a stripped-down acoustic polish and tribal-beats thrown in for good measure. Lynch sings in a melodic way, recalling the likes of Panda Bear on a good day, and his vocals, although often difficult to discern, match the pretty music well. “Disappointment” is one example of what Julian Lynch does well on this LP – strong song-writing.
Other successful tracks include the album opener, “Terra,” a bouncy, falsetto-sung number that begins with a jazz-inspired sax motif and eventually opens up into sounding like Animal Collective sitting around a camp fire. Only rather than being a blatant rip-off, Lynch throws instruments in that don’t often exist within the AnCo repertoire; for example, harmonica. Lynch has a knack for adding a lot of different sounds into the mix and making them stick, in particular paying close attention to world-beats that act as the backing to several of the tracks on offer here. When they work, they work very well, and show a musician reaching a natural groove.
There are a lot of different sounds on offer on Terra, and, sadly, not all of them are of the same high quality. “Clay Horses,” although soft in melody and quite pretty, doesn’t change much across its duration. “Fort Collins” is built around a piano that leaves it sounding an awful lot like Sigur Ros’ “Hoppipola,” and it doesn’t help that Lynch sounds quite similar to Jónsi with his layered, angelic vocals. This is not to say that Lynch lacks originality; more that his music invokes other artists a little too close-for-comfort at times.
Lynch is no stranger to experimenting with odd sounds: “Canopy” begins with a twinkly synthesiser that could easily soundtrack a Medieval porn film, before falling into a competent groove of drums and guitars, until the impulsive horns makes their penetrating entrance. Lynch is no stranger to instrumentals, either: “Ground” is an interesting track with more going on musically than is humanly possible to describe. Needless to say, it’s a soothing and somewhat unusual experience to listen to. “Water Wheel Two,” on the other hand, shows how well Lynch can make a pretty little instrumental out of pounding wooden drums, acoustic guitar, subtle bass and a talent for inserting soft synthesisers where necessary.
At times invoking Sung Tongs-era Animal Collective, although never to the point of copyright infringement, Julian Lynch’s Terra is certainly an interesting listen, even if it does come across as disjointed. There doesn’t appear to be any sort of over-arching theme, but what is here ranges from passable to very well made. When songs like “Back” get going, they really rise and show Lynch’s obvious talents; other tracks merely strum along, going nowhere slowly, albeit in an always-pleasant fashion.