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"Mezzic - Telepathic - Review"

To call Telepathic a follow up to Different Days is hard to believe, as the latter came out in six years prior in 2005. After time away from one another, and respective solo projects, Joseph Desler Costa and Lindsay Anderson began comparing musical pieces with one another, discovering how well their respective pieces fit. Thus, together once again, L’Altra brings us a snug, concise yet lavish album that, unconsciously, flows so well from end to end it seems time is swept away into the waves of Jean-Luc Godard’s Italian coast. What’s different? Well, compare the above “Nothing Can Tear It Apart” with “Bring on Happiness” off Different Days (below), and it starts to become apparent.

Intentionally, the album has two bookends entitled “Dark Corners I” and “Dark Corners II” full of a dirge of saxes. It’s not quiet the expected beginning to an album that wanders between dream and chamber pop, but it works rather masterfully in achieving definitive borders. “Nothing Can Tear It Apart” takes that drudge, and suddenly adds light, which continues into “Big Air Kiss.” The tempo shifts into a higher gear with Joseph’s voice followed closely behind by an accompanying piano. Elements of country sneak in, a welcome edition with as it drifts and matches his more poignant delivery. Lindsay Anderson follows as well, but offering those subtle hints reminiscent of how Adrianne Verhoeven would accentuate Josh Berwanger’s singing in The Anniversary. The closer you listen, the more you notice smaller musical additions, as with the violin as “your eyes are the brightest circles” rolls gently past you.

Lindsay follows the down tempo “Boys” with “When The Ship Sinks” with a simple piano unraveling into an elegant melody that replaces her vocals when she rests. Charles Rumback’s drumming is precise, nearly akin to a drum machine, which allows the incoming dual male-female vocals to harmonize upon that foundation without becoming overwhelmed by cymbals. The darkness in Different Days remains, you could argue, but is imbued in an orchestration that keeps the weight in equilibrium, especially on “Black Wind.” Don’t want to focus on one thing? The sax, hidden extraordinarily well in the recording, can tempt the ears with its jazz-like improvisation.

Telepathic is a very subconscious album. It easily lulls you into forgetting that track after track has passed. “Either Was The Other’s Mine” coaxes you into relaxation, comfort you could say, before the isolated drums give in to “Winter Loves Summer Sun.” Much akin to “Nothing Can Tear It Apart,” you don’t quiet understand that the songs don’t have distinct ends or beginnings, more so transitions, until a bending Arp synthesizer swerves into the call-and-response vocals between Joseph and Lindsay. These moments of the album serve as distinct peaks to what you could call the album’s general plot. “This Bruise” could very well be the resolution, where characters come to terms or reconcile.

L’Altra has, you could say, directed an overarching album that can be dismissed easily, but can thoroughly reward the patient listener. Cleverly placed strings and faint saxes can be heard at various points that, taken in with the pairing of Joseph and Lindsay’s vocals that build tremendously off one another (particularly “Telepathic”), is rightfully reflective on any of the art cinema films their first single borrowed from. Give this a listen, even fleeting, but resolve to return to it. You won’t be left dissatisfied. It’s a welcome return.

Official | iTunes

Rating: 7.9/10
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"Pitchfork - L'Altra Different Days"

L'Altra settle small tracts of land and make them feel large and lived-in. Their lap-pop micro landscapes are intricately detailed, beaming with uncharacteristic expansiveness in a genre that's often precious and diminutive. Different Days, the band's first album in three years, is verily a headphones record. No strangers to hard panning, L'Altra are cleanly and delicately mixed; on Different Days, Rhodes pianos, wobbly-legged guitars, and sluicing strings roam freely within seemingly infinite dreamspace.

Listeners familiar with the Notwist, Ms. John Soda, and Psapp are likely to hear strains of those bands, as well as more ambient, texture-oriented groups likes Hood and Bark Psychosis. But unlike Hood, who prefer a consolidated, unified approach, L'Altra are more inscrutable. Their songs are heavily fragmented, stitching together melody from seemingly arbitrary sources. And, hailing from Chicago, they're above all less European; L'Altra may rely on computers, but Different Days aches with a punchy midwestern twang, from the power line-shaded prairie captured on the album's cover to the tremolo-juiced guitars and bucolic strings contained within.

Curiously, Amazon.com suggests pairing Different Days with Keren Ann's sensational 2003 album, Not Going Anywhere. Aesthetically, the albums have little in common other than spindly female vocal. But like Keren Ann, L'Altra make music that's almost too soft to matter, with an alluring, slightly sexual pull. Their songs burst open upon inspection; you must first shrink to their size, but once you do, you'll probably want to stick around for awhile.

Opener "Sleepless Night" starts with a chorus of ringing telephones-- chopped, muted, and processed-- and slowly incorporates acoustic elements as it wiggles into focus. "It Follows Me Around", an easy standout, is more immediate: The track opens with an alighting guitar loop, pinioned by ringing bell tones, and blossoms early, reserving only a grandiloquent post-breakdown crescendo. By and large, the album avoids glitch-kitsch, preferring a more natural form of fracture. When the title track opens with a chopped breathy beat, it's quickly reinforced by unobstructed vocals and Rhodes piano.

Different Days is notable for its consistency; a collection of primarily lovelorn ballads, each song flickers with detail while retaining many common characteristics. Polymath Lindsay Anderson (she's collaborated with Telefon Tel Aviv, Slicker, and Will Oldham) and Joseph Costa divvy up the vocal sheet, seldom locking in harmony. On "So Surprise", however, they join together, rendering an a cappella chorus-- "If you leave, right back to me/ Like every man, you don't matter/ To every man you don't matter"-- poignant through its implicit gender ironies. And though Different Days is full of sodden slow jams, L'Altra aren't entirely incapable of levity: Closing instrumental "A Day Between" packs its suitcase and steals away on a beam of hope, capping this weighty collection with a pounding new-new-wave beat that would make even Braxe and Falke blush.

- Sam Ubl, February 14, 2005 - Pitchfork

"Stylus Magazine - L'Altra"

Different Days seemingly finds Chicago’s L’altra (“the feminine other” in Italian) primed for a major breakthrough. Consider: it’s the group’s third album, its first for John Hughes’ (aka Slicker) Hefty label, plus production duties are handled by Joshua Eustis (whose own Telefon Tel Aviv impressed with 2003’s Map of What is Effortless). Furthermore, L’altra co-leaders Lindsay Anderson (vocals, keyboards) and Joseph Costa (vocals, guitar) are happier now than ever before with their current ‘group’ arrangement: the duo augmented by a musical collective (Eustis, his Telefon partner Charles Cooper, drummers Kevin Duneman and Eben English, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and horn arranger Nate Wolcott) as opposed to the ‘democratic band’ concept they ultimately deemed unworkable by the time they’d finished their second album. And as Anderson was a key vocal presence on the last Telefon Tel Aviv and Slicker (We All Have a Plan) projects, everyone must have been comfortable during the studio sessions. Everything about the project, then, indicates ideal conditions for catapulting L’altra to a higher level.

On Different Days, the group refines its lush, romantic sound by more strongly focusing on song structures compared to past outings (2000’s Music of a Sinking Occasion and 2002’s In the Afternoon). While the group is sometimes described as an electronic band, the label is misleading; L’altra produces melancholy pop which balances electronic programming and beats with conventional instruments like guitar, piano, and drums. The group’s wistful sound is rooted in Anderson and Costa’s personal history, given that they were partners for seven years before breaking up during the recording of their debut.

The album begins powerfully with a model of construction, the hypnotic “Sleepless Night.” Emerging quietly from a cushion of insectile electronics, the song gradually intensifies with the addition of sparse piano chords and Anderson’s plaintive, intimate vocal until it erupts into a gloriously soaring crescendo—a haunting beginning and an album peak. Costa’s hushed singing assumes the lead on the next song, “It Follows Me Around,” with Anderson’s wordless counterpoint arching sweetly behind; the tune opens softly with tick-tock rhythms but raw guitar chords in the song’s middle section give it a stately boost, and the elegant, gentle duet with which it closes is affecting too. But the next song signals the album’s sole weakness: the seductive arrangement of strings and acoustic guitars in “Better Than Bleeding” is appealing, but the sluggish, dirge-like pace, now appearing for the third song in a row, starts to sound tiresome, the listener now hungry for more contrast. This fixation upon a singular tempo persists throughout and consequently circumscribes the potentially broader emotional range the album might have offered.

Having identified that lack, one then moves on to recognize an abundance of delightful moments. A slow tempo dominates again in “So Surprise” but when the stately chorus and its delicate melody kick in (“If you leave / Write back to me …”) followed by the vocal call-and-response, the effect is disarmingly and irresistibly lovely, as is the dense horn arrangement of its coda. The harder slide guitar playing in “Mail Bomb” provides welcome contrast, and the ballad “There Is No” proves a lovely setting for Anderson’s multi-tracked voice. The waltz-time title track and “Morning Disaster” (with its bass clarinet and Sgt. Pepper-like horn elements) impress for the richness of their arrangements.

The impeccably crafted Different Days is at its best when it exploits the vocal strengths of Anderson and Costa; in fact, their interweaving lines are such a constant source of pleasure, one wonders why more groups aren’t doing the same. While it’s inarguably a satisfying recording, had Anderson, Costa, and Eustis infused Different Days with a bit more of the dynamic contrast that distinguishes Map of What is Effortless, L’altra’s latest would impress as much. - Stylus Magazine


-L'Altra 'Telepathic' LP, 2011 Acuarela Discos, & Records (JP)
-L'Altra 'Winter Loves Summer Suns' Single, January, 2010, Crooked House
-L'Altra 'Different Days' LP, 2006 Hefty, JVC Victor(JP)
-L'Altra 'Bring On Happiness' EP, 2005 Hefty
-L'Altra 'Ouletta' 7inch, 2003 Aesthetics
-L'Altra 'In The Afternoon' LP, 2002 Aesthetics, P-Vine(JP)
-L'Altra 'Music of a Sinking Occasion' LP, 2000 Aesthetics
-L'Altra 's/t' EP, 2000 Aesthetics



L’ALTRA have been quietly making music for a decade, pushing through the ups and downs of various line-up changes, break-ups and the tender trials of daily life...

It’s been nearly 6 years since the stormy collaboration of singer-keyboardist Lindsay Anderson and singer-guitarist Joseph Desler Costa saw the release of their critically acclaimed album Different Days. The duo have since emerged from their respective corners to write and record their brightest effort, Telepathic.

As always, L’Altra’s take on indie pop is a gentle wash of hushed guitar, rolling piano, subtle electronics, measured rhythm, synths and strings; all supporting Lindsay and Joe’s call and response vocal musings. The band, as if taking a cue from it’s name: meaning the other woman in any number of romance languages, is truly outside and other.

Telepathic finds L’Altra refining their baroque balladry and expanding their signature Wurlitzer and guitar foundation with collaborators such as Charles Rumback (Colorlist, Via Tania), Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv, Sons of Magdalene), Josh Abrams (Bonnie Prince Billy) and Marc Hellner (Pulseprogramming).