- Record Label
- Lost Map Records
About this item
Lost Map presents Weird Wave is Kate Lazda (guitar), Craig Angus (guitar/keys), Bart Owl (bass), Susan Bear (synths), Iain Stewart (drums), L.T. Leif (vocals/keys) and Robyn Dawson (violin), together with Pictish Trail (vocals, keys, programming). With the label’s 10th anniversary approaching, the project was born of “the existential crisis that comes with the passing of any decade,” says Johnny, “and wanting to commemorate it in a way that felt special”. The idea of bringing artists to write and record on Eigg, where Johnny lives, was already well developed through Lost Map’s long-running VISITATIONS residency programme, which has seen a variety of guests travel to the island over the last five years to make special music for release on the label. Finding musicians to be part of the collective was easy. “Without wanting to sound overly earnest,” says Johnny, “the core of the project is the spirit of friendship. Lost Map isn’t some hobby label, it is my full-time job, occupying my every waking thought – but it’s also completely reliant on the support of my friends. I wanted this new group to reflect that sense of togetherness. Every person I approached I consider to be a good pal, and they all said yes straight away.”
A rough schedule for the week was put together in advance, and a collective playlist was assembled as a kind of sonic moodboard – featuring all from Yo La Tengo to Golden Teacher, Caroline, Animal Collective, Godspeed You Black Emperor, The Beta Band, Movietone, Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem. But no music was pre-prepared; everything which happened during the sessions happened completely in the moment, in the room, at the Glebe Barn hostel on a windswept late winter hillside. Players and their equipment set up in a circle by the fire in the hostel living room, taking their cues from one another spontaneously by instinct and intuition. They had seven songs within the first two days, all of which were further fleshed out and refined through further playing and writing, whether collectively or in breakout pairs and groups.
Opener ‘The Prospect’ started life as a chord progression from Bart, Craig and Kate, its jangly guitar arrangement expanded it into a summery, electronic slow-burner, decorated by Suse’s blissed-out synth-triplets. Channelling Yo La Tengo’s cover of Sun Ra’s ‘Nuclear War’, the soupy, stuttering ‘Swamp Down’ grew from a lyric writing session between Johnny and Leif that happened to pair perfectly with an electronic rhythm track Suse and Iain had been working on together in another room. Choppy, syncopated call-and-response full-band jam ‘Unrecognise!’ is powered by the party post-punk of Talking Heads and The B52’s. It’s mood is juxtaposed perfectly by the shimmering psych-frazzled romance of ‘Big Jetty’, Kate’s steady chords, Craig’s merry-go-round Casio keyboard refrain and Bart’s rolling bassline meeting Johnny’s improvised lyric and Leif’s angelic harmonies to form a song that felt, says Johnny, “like it had been written before we’d even started on it”.
“It’s essentially the sound of seven players in a room, with producer Robyn in the next room telling us when to start playing and when to stop,” says Johnny. “The album’s themes are largely shaped by its circumstance – that sense of escape, surrendering to the unknown, trusting instinct. There are recurring lyrical references to submerging underwater, mutating gills, collectively becoming a new form. There’s something weirdly apocalyptical about the songs, but also an element that speaks of new beginnings. I can’t resist the temptation of splitting chapters of my life into periods of 10 years, and this feels like the start of a new one.”
1. The Prospect
2. Swamp Down
4. The Message Clear
5. Big Jetty
6. Magic Wire
7. Astral Difficulties / Weird Wave