Long-distance avant-pop partnership bears fruits...

Søren Lorensen is the project of Matt Hales (who also works as Aqualung) and former Goldfrapp string-man Davide Rossi; between them they have chalked up some impressive gigs working with the likes of Coldplay and Lianne La Havas to more experimental pioneers like Stockhausen or Eno & Fripp.

The group name is taken (with a slight alteration) from kids TV show Charlie & Lola; Soren Lorenson being the imaginary friend of Lola. The cartoon's creator, Lauren Child, was even drafted in to draw the album artwork. Ostensibly, they chose the name because Hales’ children where obsessively watching it, but it does make you wonder if they have felt a bit like invisible people on some of the hugely successful projects they’ve been a part of.

‘Lake Constance’ was made largely remotely between the UK (Hales) and Copenhagen (Rossi), which is something we may well be seeing a lot more fin the coming year as the c-word continues to keep us all locked indoors. Will the next musical movement be dubbed WeTransfer-wave? You heard it here first.

‘Lake Constance’ opens with the Steve Reich-lite 'Furrows', where propulsive strings are punctuated by a syncopated bass throb and piano chords until they all make way for a breathy vocal line. It pairs well with ‘Escape Goat’; a similarly abstract cut, but with more emphasis on the electronic, glitchy production until some graceful filtering allows the strings that do emerge to really drive home.

Elsewhere, on ‘Swallow’ and ‘Dead Disco’ Hales shows he can still pull off a pop moment, albeit in a very downbeat manner. Better still are the back-to-back ‘Time Machine’ and ‘Growing Up Grey In A Black And White World’ where Hales has wrapped his songwriting superbly in Rossi’s emotive string arrangements – indeed, it’s reminiscent of The Notwist’s finer moments.

The ambition of the project is admirable, even if there are times where the strings become a bit dense, or the pair don’t gel as naturally - ‘Bones’ is a bit much, and ‘Dirty Threes’ doesn’t quite satisfy - there are genuinely tender moments that seem destined to expose loneliness, and it feels like both musicians have enjoyed the freedom to explore.


Words: Nicolas Graves

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