By Catherine P. Lewis
Friday, June 1, 2012
Local instrumental duo Janel and Anthony (Janel Leppin and Anthony Pirog) layers cello, guitars and electronics/loops to create instrumental soundscapes on its sophomore album “Where Is Home.” That might seem like an odd combination of instruments -- not quite classical, not quite jazz and not quite fully electronic -- but the resulting songs are often far more compelling than one might expect.
At its best, the pair creates a trancelike drone of electronics loops, then layers guitar or cello melodies on top. “Lily in the Garden” features a strong and dramatic cello line, while the overlapping, plucked melodies on “Leaving the Woods” create some of the album’s most captivating moments. “Big Sur” has a hypnotic Indian influence, while elsewhere, the pair leaves a fair amount of room for improvisation. The climax in “Where Will We Go” erupts into haphazard chaos before the song settles back into a more repetitive structure.
Ultimately, however, the challenge for mellow instrumental bands is creating music that doesn’t just fade into the background -- especially with no percussion to provide structure or momentum. Some of Janel and Anthony’s quieter songs do tend toward ambient fare (“A Viennesian Life,” especially), but more commanding numbers here, such as the slow-burning, dramatic “Broome’s Orchard,”
leave a lasting impression.