Lertora is a self-released four-track Drone EP by the duo of Bengalfuel, the project of LouDiBenedetto aka Dentist from Washington D.C. and Joe LiTrenta as Doc Deem from New Jersey. It is available for free at Bandcamp, a fact cat lovers will embrace when they look at the feline-related cost of living. Cats are the golden thread of the duo’s music if there ever was one, but the cover of Lertora takes the lead in terms of beauty, animality and pride. No wonder, for the band’s name already refers to the Bengal pedigree race in great clarity, and what a coincidence, cats are also everybody’s darling on the net, so the duo has every reception-related advantage on their side. The EP has a refreshing physiognomy concept-wise, for there is no particular concept embroidered onto the four tracks, not even a single purring cat is interwoven. I normally shy away from EP’s that are simply a collection of tracks, but not when it comes to Dentist’s and Doc Deem’s works which are perturbed by a delicate dichotomy. The duo is on the one hand known for its faithful synth- and guitar-based Drone tracks – i.e. the very essence of Lertora – and on the other hand for their superbly bubbling quasi-Rave apparitions which feature wonkily syncopated kick drums instead of more regular beat patterns or Jungle structures. Their epic Bengalfuel’s Cake Fix remix of Sima Kim’s II off his debut Songs (2012) tries to ameliorate the celestial cavalcades of colors of the Rave era and blend it with an eclectic-epicurean erethism, and let me not forget to mention their superb Risky Chicken Mix of Fontaine’s track Atomised from his album Delays (2012) which is a tohubohu hodgepodge of vesiculating arrhythmias, ever-changing beat patterns and inebriated serpentines. Both remixes are among the most exciting ones I have ever encountered; they take the original material to new levels without ridiculing each artist’s original vision, despite the tongue-in-cheek titles. Lertora is not as crafty and cunning, its focus differs as it concentrates on the Drone aspects of life. Without any explanatory text, liner note or explicated concept, the only cryptic thing about its character is the title… or is there a golden thread, a harmonious equality in the identity of the material?


Not every track title can be successfully linked to the flurry of cats all around this planet, but if there is one instance where this is easily possible, it has to be the opener Real Meal, for that is an important attribute of snobbery that is enclosed in the synapses of each cat. Facing the risk of taking the cat craze all too far over the course of this review, a meticulous look into the sound washes of Real Meal reveals a 19+ minutes long zone out Dronescape that unleashes, or rather spreads its characteristics throughout the album-length EP. Opening with the fade-in of an intensive anticipation that manifests itself through the balmy yet distantly dissonant synth and guitar layers (in regard to the latter, please see the update message below), the atmosphere is strikingly monotonous in terms of the tone sequences themselves, for there is really only one distensible tone with a few celestial half-tone sparkles involved. However, in regard to the texture entanglement, it boosts the ecclesiasticism with faux-organ streams of cherubic luminosity. The structure soon opens up and allows room for traversing strings of bliss, all the while the diffuse background becomes clearer and brighter. Darker helixes are presented over the course of the track, but whenever the effulgence seems to iridesce between unpretentious colors, the majestic guitar layers tower above this soil and retain the solemnity of Real Meal. And so the track shimmers and drones on ad infinitum until its very end, always maintaining – or nurturing anew – the rapturous state and auroral ambience. The following Brails unsurprisingly remains in the endemic habitat of silkened drone runlets, but Dentist and Doc Deem rev up the ethereality of the layer arrangement. Despite being lofty and hazy, Brails feels much deeper, more crystalline and positively histrionic thanks to its stronger wave-like nature. A gloomily glacial synth stream covers the otherwise pitch-black nullity of the backdrop and forms the basement onto which semi-translucent capsuled billows are grafted. In the last third, Bengalfuel boost the opacity of the backing haze and create an acroamatic fluxion of duality. Brails is relaxing, but less euphonious and warm than its predecessor.


The third track is titled Spirit Therein and induces an eminently lachrymose phantasmagoria which feels much drier and more immediate. Dryness and immediacy are usually connected with warmth and shelter, and these concepts and timbres are exactly what Dentist and Doc Deem weave into the soundscape. Instead of a longer fade-in phase, Spirit Therein is somewhat there the moment it starts, exuding its thin tones full of sepia-tinted nostalgia and dignified caution. The wave-like pattern is particularly noticeable, the thermal heat grows at the peaks of the respective airflow and decreases at the cusps. While this is itself perfectly normal, the differences in temperature are all the more striking here because of the fragile state Spirit Therein exposes. The background is successfully covered with contemplative-pensive drones all the time, but the seraphic gentleness and the twilight state of its harmonies circumvent the positive effects of the warmth and mould it into a nostalgia-coated goblet. Lethargically sweeping and independently wafting, Spirit Therein generates a pressure chamber effect the louder the volume is turned up, regardless of whether the listener prefer headphones or speakers. The final piece is called Faces Blazing and augments the wow factor with both its title and the cinematic New Age-oid scents which twirl amid the set boundaries of almost six minutes. In the given prospects of this being the shortest track, the conceptions of progression and potency are much more present. The widened frequency range is another marker: an aqueously turquoise-tinted stretched synth swirl glows its way through the cavernous vault, gyrating between gleaming hope and austere prudence. It may be the only audible source at the beginning, but soon enough a hefty bass creek with tremolo micro-interceptions interpolates the saturation and vigor of the scenery. Esoteric and heavily blurred bell layers are presented in adjacency to a rise in euphoria and brightness caused by the admixed guitar layers which glisten in opalescently yellow colors. The final tone of Faces Blazing may be a rather eldritch one as it consists of the bell’s reverberation, but all in all the duo of Bengalfuel does not only draw from the widest range of ingredients but manages to end the EP in an uplifting yet polysemous way.


Lertora is a delightful Drone EP whose four tracks are remarkably different from each other, yet similar enough to create a sense of cohesion and unity. The moods orbit around happiness and warmth as well as musings of nostalgia and remembrances, with many equivocal discrepancies coming to the fore if one listens carefully and is not lulled or lured by the encapsulating layers. Especially the opener Real Meal of almost 20 minutes is a prime example of an elasticized tune. The duo allows the layers and camouflaged loops the time that is needed to create a sense of tranquility. Even though Real Meal is the longest track, it is surprisingly straight forward and does not hide any counter-argument, refutation or alternative meaning. It is simply a blithesome artifact whose state of bliss is elongated. All the other tracks present a more polylayered and multi-faceted approach, if not in the actual number of layers themselves, then in the concepts that are baked into them or orbit around in a freer form: Brails unites the warmth of the surfaces with unexpectedly tense tone sequences in minor, Spirit Therein is another benign location whose amicability is strongly and purposefully degraded by the thinness of the synths as well as the nostalgic gravity, with the final Faces Blazing being almost too supercharged with its wealth of textures and frequency ranges; in the end, it fits the overarching scheme. There is not much else to interpret, I’m afraid, Lertora simply assembles four selected Drone cuts made by Bengalfuel which unfortunately completely neglect the arpeggiated Rave patterns and spacey chords which I so desire, but no harm is done. And harm is not the only thing that is completely amiss: no savvy stories, no disingenuous or perfidiously hidden messages, zilch… Lertora simply rules over the listener and watches him all too closely with her cyan eyes, that is if Lertora is the name of the cat, which happens to be Fred after all.



Further listening and reading:



Update May 1, 2013: Doc Deem told me via Twitter that no guitar has ever entered Lertora's soundscape. My personal anathema of distilling guitar figments in synth-based works – and vice versa – continues. My humblest thanks for the clarification!




Ambient Review 211: Bengalfuel – Lertora (2013). Originally published on May 1, 2013 at