I have a completely-filled 120 GB iPod classic, the record crate of the digital age, containing my entire music library. I’m listening to each release in alphabetical order by record title – kind of a virtual archaeological dig. These are my findings.
I think it’s imperative when listening to instrumental music to superimpose your own meaning and experience over the music, especially in the absence of lyrical guidance. Since we all process music in such different ways, interpreting and responding to the stimulus and riding the emotional crests and dips, it stands to reason that the music itself, regardless of the intentions of the composer, can be understood in numerous ways. Loss of a Child, the flagship band of the Lost Children netlabel, presents us here with just such an instrumental concept album, and it would be easy for me to simply create my own world out of it. But the band, mysterious in biography and purpose (they’re “an instrumental rock band from London,” according to their meagre Lost Children bio, as well as their Facebook and Myspace pages), have an agenda, and they present it to us via the album and song titles. But because they play instrumental music, I get to split the difference with them and foist upon the record my personal history as well as my own view of human history. And so, with that, we go…
Jeez, I might be setting myself up for failure – you’d think I’d need a degree in both Biblical Studies as well as Music Theory to really dig into this. But no, Loss of a Child make accessible to the masses their vision of creation with their concoction of M83/Hum/My Bloody Valentine post rock/shoegaze, filtered through a classical music lens. Virtuosic piano is featured prominently throughout the album, and the songs are structured as one would a concerto or an opera, ebbing and flowing with the narrative. Great bright bursts of guitar erupt throughout, explosive and shining supernova chords, matter v. antimatter big bangs of chaos into order – let there be light, indeed.
So without veering too much into pantheistic discourse, let’s just say that most spiritual traditions have a similar creation story wherein a supreme omnipotent being (or beings) calls the world as we know it into existence. By titling this record Adam and Eve, we know that Loss of a Child is writing from a Judeo-Christian perspective. Although two song names stand out, “Esh” and “Lobsang,” as separate from this worldview and story – a quick jaunt through wikipedia connects the former to Hinduism (“Esh” redirected me to “Bhagavan,” which means “illustrious, divine, venerable, holy … [and] is in many ways analogous to the general Christian conception of God”) and the latter to Bhuddism, “Lobsang” being the name of several Tibetan lamas. But I think the band’s intention with this record was to present a more human vantage point to this earliest period of time and forge emotional connections to early man and his surroundings.
And thus, “Adam,” leading off the album and introducing us to one of our main characters. There he stands tall and powerful, Immortal Man, shining in the bright rays of creation, fuzzed guitar and bass cascading over the scene as God, mighty pleased with himself you know, relinquishes the earth to him. From here all is bright chord progressions as Adam surveys his home and its inhabitants – all the animals, according to the book of Genesis. He interacts with them on primal levels, and is their guardian. This continues through the short “Path of the Butterfly,” until “Change Theory” and “Esh” find the band more downtempo and thoughtful – it seems that the slower, more contemplative pieces reflect Adam’s interaction with God while the more rhythmically active and melodically soaring tracks are indicative of Adam’s relationship with the world around him, his surroundings and animal companions. The short “Not Part of the Pride” follows in this manner.
Track 6 is where the record changes direction and devolves into conflict, a switch made apparent in the title itself: “You Write, I Read, Two Different Stories.” Personally, I interpret this as Adam referring to God as the “writer” or “creator” here, and it begins Adam’s longing for more suitable human companionship. This also happens to be my absolute favorite song on the album – the scale goes back and forth from minor to major, furthering the inherent conflict, guitars drop out leaving the piano and drums, and then it all comes crashing back in to end on the most satisfying and surprising descending countermelody. I think God’s listening…
After a brief detour to break up (in my – admittedly at this point cracked and laughing – mind, a literal) “Puppy Conflict,” “Quiet Summer Dreams” soundtracks the moment where God removes Adam’s rib in his sleep and uses it to create his human counterpart, Eve. God and beauty are then praised in “Lobsang” and “Beauty Will Save the World,” and we are finally introduced to “Eve” in an 11-minute suite to close the album, as Adam and the music first awaken and tentatively figure out what God has done. At the midway point we once again get an explosion of soaring guitar and piano to highlight Adam’s and Eve’s ecstacy at discovering one another, and the music climaxes before collapsing in a heaving denoument.
There’s the story, but this band has an intense grip on emotional tension and release, and they have three other albums and an EP to dig into as well. And as Lost Children is a netlabel, all their releases are available for download from the website, this particular album at http://www.archive.org/details/LostChildren029. You don’t want to miss out on this band, and keep an eye on this label.
RIYL: M83 (if Before the Dawn Heals Us was instrumental), Explosions in the Sky, instrumental Smashing Pumpkins and Hum