Lost Lake in the UK last month
posted: 07 July, 2010
(75% of Lost Lake, live in Newcastle: L-R Mark Vernon, Luke Fowler, me)
Last month I ended up back in Glasgow for a week to work with Luke Fowler in our Lied Music project, though this time we have formally merged it with Vernon and Burns, using the name Lost Lake. Mark Vernon and Barry Burns, with whom we recorded the 2006 LP Lied Music vs. Boy-Band Tax Returns, are two of the most like-minded, complementary soundies we've ever worked with;; while we've recorded together heaps, we have never performed before as a 4-piece.
The two live dates (Newcastle and Glasgow) didn't go quite as planned; due to a family emergency, Barry had to drop out rat the last minute. Also, we were hoping to have our new LP available, but mastering and pressing delays meant we were empty-handed on the merch table (though Luke has a slew of new releases on his Shadazz label, and Vernon and Burns have a new LP on Gagarin). Suddenly thrust into trio mode, unprepared, the Newcastle date was a bit jittery, though it was worth it to experience the lovely Star & Shadow Cinema, an inspiringly beautiful all-volunteer cinema and performance space.
It was a rewarding experience nonetheless - we spent the prior weekend improvising and recording (as the full group, with Barry), which was also rehearsing for the live dates. I brought no sound-making instruments to the UK, apart from a few bits of junk and my old sampler; I borrowed some small objects from Mark and used his banjo for a few parts. Luke also brought me some old favourites from our '06 tour, like the nail-o-phone and some small gongs. For his own playing, Luke was experimenting with his newest synthesizers, pictured below. I intentionally kept my sound palette small, keeping my options limited, and seeking versatility from the apparently non-versatile. I can say now that I have mastered the art of playing a thumb piano with a battery-powered fan.
I wish I could play more with Luke; our geographic separation + his very successful art/film career + my own projects make Lied Music a very, very part-time thing. So I'm grateful for the little time we had, and I think the new recordings really show how the four of us have gelled. When they surface (hopefully sooner than the usual few years we take in getting releases together) I suspect it will be our most diverse work, featuring some very strange synth alienscapes, eerily processed electroacoustic weirdness and occasional spoken detritus.
(Me and my junk)
Maybe the most essential non-musical element of playing with Luke that has influenced me is his continual drive for reinvention. In the past I've always thought of Lied Music, if it had to be reduced to the most distinctive description, as "Luke on homemade instruments, me on israj, and both of us using shitloads of tape loops/manipulations". These Lost Lake sessions used none of the above. It was almost a total about-face, except that our sensibilities remained (though inarticulately altered through time and new experiences, interests, etc.).
It's been some time since I've performed music live, and while I enjoyed the experience (particularly the Glasgow show, which was everything we had hoped, and more [but still would have been better with Barry]), I still feel more interested in taking my musical experience in the direction of workshops, structured exercises, and other interactive forms. I was hoping to bring some sort of performative element to Lost Lake, but in the end I was caught up in concentrating on the sounds I was making and how they fit into the group mix. I don't think it was exciting to watch three guys - one on a laptop, one playing with synthesizers, and one rubbing a ballon -- but at least I got to be the guy with the balloon.
When the LP is ready -- hopefully in just a few weeks - I will announce it here with ordering information, etc.