Sunday, January 29, 2012

To My: Long Lost Love

This is the type of thing that can be equally frustrating as it is compelling as a music fan.

Yes, I’m here because Robin Pecknold put this on his list of albums of the year for 2011.

The bandcamp page lists the artist as either “anonymous”, “to my long lost love”, “heart and soul” or “junior cloud apprentice.”  It’s only been released on vinyl and I had to send an email off to a nondescript Gmail address to open a correspondence with its creator and purchase it.

This can be fun in a romanticized way where things simply boil down to the music and judging that simply on its own merits.  However, a bit of internet sleuthing and some keen Googling will reveal (most likely) the creator’s name.  My common sense tells me that it’s someone who is affiliated with the Fleet Foxes circle, as the record was released in September of last year and Fleet Foxes had been on tour for several weeks previous at that point (and, as has been expressed to me, the album’s creator has no intentions to release it digitally — which raises the obvious question as to how Robin Pecknold heard it).  All of this I must admit, as much as I hate to remove the discussion from the actual music, is darn good fun.

I just wish I knew who exactly I had sent money to in order to receive the record, so I could properly give them credit.  Oh well, I suppose.  Maybe one day I’ll know.  For the time being, I’ll just say that I like the songs that somebody whose name I don’t know wrote.

But I’m not about to overlook the actual music to speculate on someone’s identity.

I guess if I were to sum it up shortly, I'd say its sound hearkens back to the lo-fi, slow/sadcore sound of the early and mid-90's.  It's got the sparse, low and scratchy electric guitar strum of the quieter moments of Slint, mixed with the flourishing psychedelic atmospheres of early Mazzy Star.  Add a whispery, soprano-ranged singer on top of the lush musical concoctions and you get a downright pleasant album.

It's actually pretty direct, musically — which is the last thing you'd expect when considering its presentation.  A lot of the songs clock in at around two minutes and consist solely of guitar and multi-tracked vocals.  Some drum loops here, a synth harmony there, sad and sparse piano chords for good measure; nothing that revelatory, really.

The things that make it rise above and become a listenable —and, indeed, rather enjoyable— little lo-fi pop album are the catchiness and sincerity of the songs.  The recollections of an intense bedroom conversation on 'What You Said' or the analogy of one lover pushing the other off a cliff on 'The Mountain' make for lovely little slices heartbroken pop, much akin to the twee generation.  'If You Say So' is the most impressive thing here, conjuring up a sort of Stereolab meets the Cocteau Twins vibe.

It definitely has the feeling to it of one person, sitting in a room with their guitar and tiny practice amp, working out the songs in the space of three or four days.  All signs point to the lyrics documenting a pretty grueling breakup — there's practically nothing else addressed here except the past.  The sequencing is great; not exactly telling a complete story, but finding proper bookends in 'It Comes in Waves' and the loss-accepting 'What Do I Do With You' (the opener and closer, respectively).  It sounds pretty darned complete for a twenty four minute affair.

There's no information anywhere on the record jacket besides titles.  So, to the person in Portland, Oregon that created this music: job well done.  A word of advice though: next time, maybe take at least partial credit for your accomplishment.

If you don't reside in Portland, you can purchase this album (vinyl only) by shooting an email off to the address here.


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