Review: From the Mouth of the Sun – “Light Caught The Edges”

There’s reason to be very excited for Light Caught the Edges, the fourth LP from ambient duo From the Mouth of the Sun, out Oct. 15. While From the Mouth of the Sun has been putting out consistently great work among the Venn diagram of ambient and post-classical circles since forming in 2011, the duo’s core members – Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist – soar above all expectations on the new record, an eight-composition affair on Lost Tribe Sound. Hymn Binding, from 2017, and Sleep Stations, from a year later, were spectacular works of cinematic sound but Light Caught the Edges, their first LP to integrate synths, sounds like a band reborn. On certain tracks, such as “Landing in The Dark” or closer “I Draw You Close,” the duo never has sounded better.

The record opens with “For A Moment We Were Weightless,” which starts with the sounds of airplane engines in waiting and goes on to integrate artfully orchestrated electro-acoustic sounds and sweeping classical gestures. Though seemingly optimistic in its pathos, Martin and Rosenqvist toy with a sense of intense restraint that seems to suggest otherwise. There are many moments throughout the record – and especially on tracks like “Weightless” – where everything could break free and thrash into an epic crescendo but the duo keeps its mannerisms in check, often with a kind of pulling sensation that drives you to believe they, too, are aware of the tug of the bombastic. They wisely demur and the music benefits from it.

The second track, “Landing in The Dark,” is absolutely heartbreaking stuff, a deceptively simple, repeating motif for forlorn piano and weeping strings that is, simply said, devastatingly beautiful. (It parallels Alder and Ash’s “No More Storms” for the accuracy of its constructions of sadness.) Here, the band leans more post-classical than sound-sculpted, and the energy of the track is handed over not to synthetic sounds or careful constructions but the organic wailing of the instruments. Somehow, this thing only runs 4:24 (you’ll wish it ran twice or thrice as long) – again, From the Mouth of the Sun keeps its gestures within reach, far from running away on grandiose tangents. Much the same could be said for closer “I Draw You Close,” whose strings sometimes hint at a reprise of “Landing in The Dark.” There are interesting cues here – static sound for one, and the sound of waves crashing, it appears – but, again, the heart of the song is its instruments’ hum. The song closes by thematically tipping its hand to memory and memories lost, making it all the more spellbinding. Simply bravura stuff!

Elsewhere, the band toys with structure, as on “Breaking Light,” whose reluctant strings are treated with a kind of chugging overleaf that gives a dramatic sense of movement. “Ashen” is another epic of the LP, though the band drops in all sorts of subtle editing turns and tricks to sublimate the emotional intensity here of the classical instruments. “Ashen,” which sits dead-center in the LP for those keeping track, is the most morose of the record’s offerings but its somber instrumentation and sad asides are mostly secondary to its dressing; the resulting eight minutes almost bare a ghostly, haunted feeling, without all the humdrum expectations and melodrama often paired with these things in October.

The final third of the record might be the best spot for the band to revisit or further polish, as songs like “Memory of Crashing Waves,” slight at just 3:24, don’t fully deliver on the sonic premises their sound-structures suggest. But the resulting melancholy of some of the closing half’s moments – “The Warmth Falls In,” the second-to-last track, begins as a funeral dirge – carries listeners through to the majestic closing, where From the Mouth of the Sun lays all its cards on the table.

Light Caught the Edges is more than From the Mouth of the Sun’s best record. It is an announcement of sorts. The duo, who in their own careers also have been mighty prolific and well-regarded, has come into their own with the fourth LP, really creating a sense of the group’s space in ambient circles. These guys have always been a formidable force. Light Caught the Edges proclaims them a major player – and one whose work should not be missed. — Justin Vellucci, Spectrum Culture, Oct. 21, 2021

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About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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