last-ex

It opens with the ‘Hotel Blues’ and ends with a ‘Hotel Kiss’. And Last Ex’s hotel stands mostly empty – strip-lit and hollow. It’s a lonely place between places, frequented by the rudderless and the melancholy, and haunted by dreams of elsewhere and elsewhen. The instrumental duo’s debut album flits between nostalgia and dream – dream and nightmare – with enigmatic poise. Arpeggiated guitar chords punctuate keyboard haze, shuffling bass lines lapped by jazz-haunted beats.

It’s an approach to whole-group melodic harmony that recalls Constellation Records label-mates Do Make Say Think, if only they’d spent more time getting stoned listening to Morricone and Badalamenti than sitting around a campfire. An off-shoot of Timber Timbre, Last Ex’s music began as a soundtrack for a horror film, a project long since abandoned. But the absence of images and narrative cohesion is felt less as a deficiency than an evocative incompleteness at the heart of the music’s semi-ambience. ‘Last Ex’ is a remote album, veiled in aloofness that can frustrate, shrouded with mystique that can often seduce.

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