Mary Lattimore is a Los Angeles-based harpist who has played on recordings by dozens of indie rock and experimental musicians, in addition to soundtrack work and her own solo releases. She typically augments her graceful harp improvisations with electronic effects, emphasizing the instrument’s ethereal qualities while conjuring up fascinating new sonic vistas. She became an in-demand session musician before releasing solo material in 2012. She later collaborated on albums and soundtracks with artists like Jeff Zeigler and Maxwell August Croy, and released music on well-regarded labels like Thrill Jockey and Ghostly International. By 2018, her solo material had begun to incorporate guitar, keyboard, Theremin, and other instruments, with albums like 2020′s Silver Ladders augmenting her ambient harp with a wide range of accompanying sounds.
Originally from Asheville, North Carolina, Lattimore became known as part of the Philadelphia underground music scene during the mid-2000s. Along with members of psych-folk bands Espers, Fern Knight, and Fürsaxa, Lattimore contributed to the Valerie Project, whose performances and self-titled 2007 album on Drag City provided an alternate soundtrack to the 1970 Czech surrealist film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. Following the album’s release, Lattimore played harp on albums by Jarvis Cocker, Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile, and numerous others. Her first solo release was a self-titled cassette on Fred Thomas’ Life Like imprint in 2012. The album was given a wider release the following year, when Desire Path Recordings issued it on vinyl as The Withdrawing Room.
At the end of 2013, Lattimore and frequent collaborator Jeff Zeigler premiered their score to Philippe Garrel’s 1968 experimental silent film Le Révélateur. The duo recorded a full-length titled Slant of Light, which was released by Thrill Jockey in 2014. That same year, Lattimore was awarded a grant from Philadelphia’s Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. She and Zeigler began touring together in 2015, and they contributed a track to Ghostly International’s Ghostly Swim 2 compilation. Lattimore released a solo cassette titled Luciferin Light on Kit Records that year, and the LP At the Dam appeared on Ghostly in March 2016. Four months later, Thrill Jockey issued Lattimore and Zeigler’s score for Le Révélateur, and the duo performed at screenings of the film throughout the United States and Europe. Also that summer, Constellation Tatsu issued Terelan Canyon, her collaboration with En’s Maxwell August Croy.
In 2017, Lattimore issued And the Birds Flew Overhead, a collaboration with keyboardist Elysse Thebner Miller, as well as Collected Pieces, an album of compositions previously only available on her music streaming pages. Following her relocation to Los Angeles, Lattimore recorded Hundreds of Days, her most expansive, detailed solo work to date. Ghostly International released the album in May 2018. In November, she and fellow Philadelphia native Meg Baird issued the collaborative offering Ghost Forests on Three Lobed and toured Western Europe and the U.K. Along with extensive touring that included dates with Deerhoof and Iceage, Lattimore also found time to collaborate with Merge Records and Superchunk mainstay Mac McCaughan on instrumental sessions that paired her harp with McCaughan’s synthesizers. These improvised sessions resulted in the duo’s New Rain Duets album, released on Three Lobed in March 2019. In October of 2020, Lattimore worked again with Ghostly International for the release of her studio album Silver Ladders; it was recorded by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead at his home studio after he and Lattimore had met at a festival they both played at. Halstead and Lattimore’s collaborations on the album included fleshing out previously existing demos and improvising together on new material. ~ Paul Simpson