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Lost Map Presents Weird Wave

Lost Map Presents Weird Wave

    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.”

    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. The Prospect
    2. Swamp Down
    3. Unrecognise!
    4. The Message Clear
    Side B
    5. Big Jetty
    6. Magic Wire
    7. Astral Difficulties / Weird Wave

    Free Love

    Inside

      Free Love (FKA Happy Meals) and their music are a conscious study in duality: thumping live tracks and meditational mantras, pop songs and esoteric experiments, acoustic and electronic instrumentation, lyrics in French and English, the Masculine and the Feminine, all side-by-side. Paragons of the cross-pollinating Glasgow DIY scene, their rapturous psychedelic odysseys have been emanating from the city since 2013 via esteemed labels including Night School and Optimo Music. Free Love’s debut EP Luxury Hits was released in 2018 to much critical acclaim (“a groovy fever dream” – Line of Best Fit) and saw them shortlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year Award (Suzi and Lewis’s third SAY Award nomination in all, following two under the Happy Meals moniker). It was followed in 2019 by the mini-album Extreme Dance Anthems (“music to move both body and mind” – Clash). In 2018 Free Love released a limited-edition vinyl EP, written and recorded on the isle of Eigg as part of Lost Map’s V I S I T ▲ T I O N S residency programme – strengthening a long-standing kinship between the band and the label which has seen them perform live many times at Lost Map events on Eigg and elsewhere.

      It leads to the release on Lost Map in 2023 of Free Love’s latest opus INSIDE. Written and recorded at the band’s Glasgow home studio during and after the lockdowns of 2020-2021, and completed just before the birth of Lewis and Suzi’s son Echo in the summer of 2022, its 10 tracks of house-quaking acid pop, celestial drones and yogic devotionals are a by-turns banging and blissed-out meditation on life and death, community and seclusion, worlds both outwith and within. A song about “coming back to the centre after spiralling too far and recognising you’re not the only person wondering what’s going on”, ‘Open The Door’ reaches for the fresh silicon sound of Yellow Magic Orchestra. ‘Stop’ and ‘Golden Goose’ channel the space age pop dreams of Broadcast, while ‘Le Mirage’ and ‘Dans Le Noir’ take influence from 1970s electronic dance music pioneer Patrick Cowley – the former his gay porn movie soundtracks, the latter Cowley’s game-changing hi-NRG productions such as ‘Menergy’ and ‘Megatron Man’. Transportational seven-minute album closer ‘I Become’ sees Free Love borrow lyrics from the first track Lewis and Suzi ever recorded together, ‘Crystal Salutation’. “In doing, we become.”

      “The sounds and themes on INSIDE came from the experiments we started working on throughout lockdown in our home studio, FULL ASHRAM CELESTIAL GARDEN,” says Lewis. “Sometimes we’d leave a sound running on loop until little melodies would come in and then that would start to take the form of the track. It has been a weird time for anyone to be making anything creative – to make sense of any reason to it all, we had to position creating music as an essential ritualistic part of our daily existence. We used the studio as a portal and made INSIDE.”

      Free Love’s euphoric live show has seen them tour Europe, USA, India and Russia with the likes of The Flaming Lips, Liars and James Holden and The Animal Spirits, with Suzi often tearing through the audience centring the energy in the middle of the room over the live hardware electronics operated by Lewis from the stage turning into a ritualistic communal catharsis. As well as performing their debut Boiler Room live set from their home studio during lockdown, the band remixed music for Django Django and Charlotte Gainsbourg.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Woozy electronic stabs and rich scattered bass weave around lysergic floating vocals. Free Love present a perfect mix between euphoric synth-pop and darkened basement dancefloor grooves.

      TRACK LISTING

      Side A
      1. Le Mirage
      2. Open The Door
      3. Fight Or Flight
      4. All The Same To Me
      5. Golden Goose
      Side B
      1. Dans Le Noir
      2. Don’t Stop
      3. Stop
      4. It’s A Feeling
      5. I Become


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