‘Benthic Lines’ is nothing if not a labour of love. Dunfermline songwriter Dan Lyth recorded it over four years, along with some friends, on four separate continents. Not only that, all the parts for the songs were apparently recorded outdoors. Has all this effort been worth it?
Well, to be honest, it’s hard to tell if a cello part sounds better recorded outside in sub-saharan Africa than it does in somebody’s bedroom, but what is undeniable is that ‘Benthic Lines’ is a brilliant sounding album.
It very much evokes Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’ in terms of atmosphere. However, whereas that album made use of electronic elements and programming, ‘Benthic Lines’ achieves a similar feel by using purely acoustic instruments.
Lyth has fine falsetto, which he utilises to full effect in the chorus of album highlight ‘Four Creatures’. The cyclic, looping piano of ‘Earth Broke Its Vow’ is hypnotic, and the mournful ‘This Time In November’ is perhaps the most traditional, singer-songwriter style song on an idiosyncratic album.
Dan Lyth has produced an immersive and original piece of work that has a remarkably ‘complete’ sound to it, with each song as consistently excellent as the last. It’s hard to tell how much attention it will get beyond the Scottish music scene, but it deserves to be heard as far and wide as its globe-totting origins.