Mary Lattimore & Paul Sukeena

It is shocking what your mind will choose to forget. Almost always it needs a tear, a clean dash, a straight passage into what you’ve already known. Looking back, West Kensington has achieved that very goal: creating a landscape for memory, an imprint of that horizon, suspended in the cosmos.

I heard it in real-time, percolating against our shared apartment wall. The assembly of sounds was a comfort; a welcome change during what felt like a fresh era entirely. Like the comets we see every so often, it’s the streak of some long-ago awe that we try to comprehend. So much space, so much reach and so far; so much weight hanging in the dark sky. And the reasons we missed the comet – and why – become the moments we remember most.

Welcome to The Unknown. “Hundred Dollar Hoagie” is a slap across the face, our new normal. The weight of Lattimore’s harp is our hull, her tones steadying the ship’s course. Sukeena’s guitar is our intrepid guide, as terrified as us. All at once, the things that seem so familiar, appear so far away. The mid-record swells for “Didn’t See The Comet” like a hall pass for a coastal drive. The chimes in “Flaming Cherries Jubilee at Antoine’s” tell us it’s going to be OK. Permission to land has been granted. The ambient noise dissipates and like a futuristic prelude to Koyaanisqatsi, the chords of the harp conjure a feeling of togetherness and intentional greeting resembling Philip Glass after loads of red wine. These are the tiny holes in the dark.

…Time as a constellation.

A constellation is only recognized when its stars are aligned: those bright spots, seemingly neighbors beside each other, yet billions of miles apart. The matrix of light is abstracted and creates a new name. What if our memories did the same?  Our stained fingertips made stained fingerprints on our foreheads from the garage wine we made together. The cosmic blue-tipped crest of the waves on that warm night, all aglow but not for us. Our memories as gas giants, fleeting supernovas that when glared at, only become more intense and abstract.

In “Altar of Tammy”, the sky sinks to indigo and we know there will be another one of these days. Sukeena lets his guitar drone…reminding us of this truth. Like a forced smile, Lattimore swings her notes where our hearts want to go: there can’t only be darkness – there can’t only be smoke. We can’t be the only ones in this expanse, gaze fixed. There is an absence of ‘noise’ here, aside from the click of a pedal. Where did we go in 2020? What did we do? Why did we cry together, on the porch, looking out? On the days we couldn’t go outside, West Kensington is proof there was music created and it felt like something real; and the jacaranda tree had a soundtrack to drop its leaves to.

…Things had better work here, because here is where we run out of space.

As we reach the end of the journey, “Garage Wine” arrives.  Here is a glimpse of hope and a nod to the freedom we never saw coming. We traveled so far and have reached the edge only to realize that there was never a map. We were only using our gestures as directional guides, our hands moving toward one another in hi def. Using these earthly makings of strings and tubes, West Kensington takes us to that cosmic latitude of memory, and the ride is a healing one. As it goes with the passing comet, the songs are a reminder that we are here, making those vibrations into nothingness together. And it is brilliant.

Nicky Devine

January 2022 


Sukeena_and_Harpie_by_Lattimore

IMAGES: To download, click above. Mary photo credit to Jamie Kelter Davis. Paul photo credit to Mary Lattimore.

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Mary Lattimore
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