Mary Lattimore & William Tyler
Born of Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority brought light and much more to the agrarian Southeast. A federally owned electric company—the first and largest regional planning agency of its kind—it introduced electricity, flood control, and other modernizations to rural communities all along the Tennessee River, a terrain it still stewards from its headquarters in Knoxville. The nexus of time, place, and culture it represents is a fertile ground for Mary Lattimore and William Tyler, both native Southerners who instrumentally chart strange landscapes that have the vivid familiarity of dreams.
Lattimore roams the experimental borderlands of indie music with harp and effects pedals, shedding misty moonlight over collaborations with the likes Jeff Zeigler, Meg Baird, and even Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, who turns out to be a big modular-synth head. Then there are Lattimore’s own deep-field ambient harp albums, such as Silver Ladders, which AllMusic called “a gorgeous immersion in loneliness, solitude, and perseverance.” And Tyler is an undoctrinaire Americana guitarist who started as a precocious young member of Lambchop and Silver Jews before helming five acclaimed albums, which range across graceful Windham Hill-style folk, rugged fingerstyle guitar in the Fahey mold, and indefinable sepia-toned psychedelia.
In the world premiere of Electric Appalachia, these two top-notch traditional abstractionists perform original music for a new archival film by Eric Dawson, the archivist of the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, creating a rich musical documentary of a century of American change as it played out on these time-washed riverbanks.