LUNG CYCLES “Lung Cycles” (Lily Tapes and Discs)

Ben Lovell is back. The Lily Tapes and Discs dude and Lung Cycles ringleader has dropped the “collective’s” first new full-length in five years, which will be six years when you read this (god, I get review submissions SO LATE sometimes!). This is the third time I’ve reviewed his Lung Cycles project. I have dug his work. That is no exception here.

In fact, this self-titled tape is a masterwork of delicate playing and considerate slowcore, a 1990s Midwest treat filtered through present-day Rochester New York. Together with a group of likeminded collaborators, Lovell carefully lays out his songs like a collection of old maps, smoothing them out and imagining what all those different roads would look like if you drove through them in autumn. His acoustic guitar and hushed voice are the main ingredients, but they’re accompanied with all sorts of gentle accoutrements. If folk music ever teetered on the edge of ambient, it would be a Lung Cycles release.

There’s so much beauty in it, so much heartache, that you can almost hear the dried leaves crunch underfoot or the breeze in the rafters foretelling winter. Pages of old hardback books turn slowly as their stories are internalized, the smell of old paper and dust lingering in the air until the books are returned to the shelf to wait for the next person to read them. If anyone ever does. Maybe that particular copy will never be played again.

Maybe Lung Cycles sits on the shelf for my descendants? I hope it gets more airtime than that. It certainly should.