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Chosen Waves 018: Lucid Grain – Lost Memories

HannesHannes

Welcome back to another episode of Chosen Waves! Before we get to the track and what the artists have to tell us about it, a little service announcement.

As you might notice in a minute, this format has changed. We’re going back to what we initially had envisioned this to be: a way to showcase tracks, and give insight into the process and the ideas that have concurred to its creation. From now on, the Chosen Waves will revolve around a standard set of 4 quesitons, plus one bonus one. They will also be shorter and specifically about one track only.

So, without further ado, here’s Lucid Grain with “Lost Memories”.


Title: Lost Memories
Artist: Lucid Grain
Album: Sustain & Release
Year: 2019
Label: Modularfield

How was this track born?

Anatol: In Spring 2018, two things were due: Martha’s child and our second album. We wanted to finish all recordings for Sustain & Release before the baby was born. The following weeks were pretty dense and insanely productive. We recorded twelve tracks in just four months. „Lost Memories“ was among them. 

What was your process when creating this piece?

Anatol: I had recorded a track that sounded promising to be treated the „Lucid Grain way“. I sent Martha the different components, so that she could prepare her „response“ for our session. To keep things fresh, I didn’t hear her contribution until we started jamming. 

We recorded four takes and, as usual, the second take was the best. Editing the 30 minute jam down to more appropriate 3:49 minutes was a challenge. First, there were several sweet spots that I wanted to incorporate into the track. Secondly, the crackling really starts tearing on your nerves after several hours of editing. But I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

How did the tools used for this piece affect the way it came together?

Martha: Besides my modular I love working with the iPad, there are many beautifully experimental apps you can use. For „Lost Memories“ I played around with Borderlands and iDensity for example, which are Granular apps. 
I always try to let the machines guide me while designing sounds or composing. I don’t have a predefined idea what I want to achieve upfront, but look and see what happens while I explore the machine. That keeps me from repeating the same procedures over and over while searching for melodies, sounds or rhythms.

Anatol: For this particular track, the tools didn’t influence the track at all. I was using Ableton and my mixer, Martha had her iPad for the speech treatments and provided additional samples. When you work with samples, the challenge is not to become too repetitive. For me, that was the most difficult part during our session.

Lucid Grain live, photo by Andreas Merz

What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about the track?

Martha: I really love the swirling sound of “Lost Memories”, it sounds like a track you have long forgotten on a tape cassette. When you play it back, after several years, many lost memories resurface. It also reminds me very much of the Blade Runner scene where Rachel is in Deckard’s apartment… so many lost memories she thought were real.

I’m not sure what I don’t like about this track, it’s actually one of my favourites of the album.

Anatol: The second I heard Martha’s voice sound treatment I knew this was going to become a very special track. 

The least favorite thing about it is, that its fragility doesn’t quite unfold when you play it on speakers instead of headphones… but that happens to most ambient tracks, right? Also, to me this is a soundtrack to a contemplative moment in a movie. But I cannot find the right movie that would fit, which drives me nuts. Maybe the readers could point me in the right direction.

Bonus question: there’s a strong tape-loop-feel in this track. What kind of mood or emotion does the tape sound evoke to you? How does this fit into the overall idea for the track?

Anatol: I adore the work of Greg Gorlen, a San Francisco based artist who mainly worked with cassettes. His work has a special nostalgic quality to it, that stretches far beyond the medium itself. His pieces sound like they were recorded on shellac, so there’s definitely a 1920s feeling to it and the melodies are full of melancholy and desire.  

This in-your-face feeling is what I was after. I recorded piano loops on tape and made a track called „Putting an End to Culture“ from them. I additionally degraded the loop with Reaktor’s VHS and iZotope’s Trash 2, great for some extra grit and resonance. 

Martha and I have a knack for these „distant melodies“ that aren’t in your face and sound like they are coming from the next room. For me, the secret to achieve that, is not to drench a melody in reverb, but to start EQ’ing, adding grit, noise and saturating it until you reach the desired effect. 


Cover Photo by Andreas Merz

Hannes
Author

Graphic designer, illustrator and soundmangler. He makes music as kurodama and as part of the electronic music duo kvsu. Together with his wife Elizabeth he runs Papernoise, a small design studio located in northern Italy, specialised in graphic design for the world of music.

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