As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Bryter Layter.
Those who choose to share their name with an album from Nick Drake would likely be paying tribute to Drake’s style—and in some cases, the duo of Mike Pollard and Joe Raglani are indeed homage to the folk legend. But Two Lenses is as far removed from Drake’s whimsical strums as they are directly tied into the ethereal life he effortlessly captured in song.
Bryter Layter’s first LP for Students of Decay is a work of fairy tale pleasures. Two Lenses is a tranquil, meditative romp of synthesized ambience. There was never a rule marrying guitar with folk but the common law bond is now broken thanks to Raglani and Pollard. Without politically or romantically charged lyrics, the wafting rhythms of Two Lenses still hits as close to home as a Guthrie ode or a Seeger charge.
In the truest sense of folk music, Bryter Layter is capturing a movement via sound. Rather than play Alan Lomax to it all (though each has as proprietors of their own labels), Raglani and Pollard are inserting themselves into the fray. Neither has been shy about creation in the past with Two Lenses a zenith in their respective careers. It is sensual, infectious, and informed—at the height of a movement defined by synthesizers and found sounds, Bryter Layter is positioned to be an inspiration to the next set of musical rebels without so much as a spoken word. The language is music and Two Lenses says all it needs to say about the current state of the world-at-large with as few distractions as possible.
As the album hints, Two Lenses is truly a work of light. It stands as a beacon of elegant synth, the sounds of future and space plucked from the heavens and used as blueprint for happiness on Earth. The serenity it gives off is the same warmth that has drawn thousands to Nick Drake so long after his death. Two Lenses stands as a testament to the lasting gift of hope-within-the-fray; a speck in time that shall grow rings as it stately ages.