OLDE ENGLISH SPELLING BEE
With the definitive boom of the new lo-fi wave that started to rise last year, now, in 2010, many bedroom producers have managed to reach an undeniable artistic level. Names like Bradford Cox, Noah Lennox or Ariel Marcus Rosenberg come to mind, crown princes of a revival that coincides almost entirely with that of new psychedelics as the paradigm to follow. These are names that can move masses with their twisted music that was unthinkable a decade ago. Julian Lynch could be the main star of the next chapter in this history. A peculiar, peripheral man whose music sounds more volatile than Cox’s, more aseptic than Lennox’s, and infinitely less fun-loving than Ariel’s. A couple of years ago, he put out the “Orange You Glad” LP and received praise for his cute epiphanies improvised on a four-track. But his big introduction will be with this, an album recorded at the altar (his parents’ house), with which to take communion with your head bowed, and which will take him a few steps further up the staircase leading to the floor above, towards the room where he grew up.
Lynch lives in Wisconsin, but he’s from New Jersey. He has very fond memories of his childhood city, many of them with bands that he has played in. Among them Titus Andronicus, Real Estate and Ducktails. He doesn’t usually go back to his childhood home, but he recently went back to record this “Mare”, since his current neighbours kept him from doing it in his own apartment. Recently, Lynch has enrolled on a Master’s program in Ethnomusicology, where they are hitting him over the head with Adorno, but what really fascinates him is the folklore of India and Southern Asia. Lynch writes songs that condense all of the musical affinities he studies, and later intertwines them into the shape of spiderwebs that entrance us, as if we were watching them being woven by an insect before our eyes. He plays a gamelan and is fascinated by both Debussy and LaMonte Young. Even so, he recognises that the skeleton of all his compositions belongs to pop. In reality, it’s hard to say what other music “Mare” sounds like. What is easiest for me is to resort to the most absolute subjectivity, to the feelings that listening to it gives me. I’m not very sure why, but the it brings back memory of forgotten afternoons with The Montgolfier Brothers, of waking up next to the early Edison Woods, or a stunted nightfall with “Horn of Plenty” by Grizzly Bear. At times, without having seen how I got there, the trip strays off to faraway shores like those of “Another Green World”.
When he was a child, Lynch took piano and clarinet classes, and from there, or from drum or guitar patterns, he begins to build his songs. The luggage he carries as the player of several instruments is heavy, but he likes to dirty everything by splashing it with various noises and spongy drones; in a way, he subverts the norms that say how to assign the scale of each instrument. Meanwhile, he incorporates layers and layers based on whatever he has to hand: bass, sax, harmoniums, old bagpipes, Indian tabla drums, or wind instruments that he’s made himself. He handles it all with wah wahs, tremolos, and echoes as if from an alpha state. His voice disguises it under almost incomprehensible murmurs so that the lyrics (his weak point, he says) can barely be understood. Finally he cradles it all in the rhythm of a waltz and an ambient that would gladly accept adjectives like “Southern.” The results are aquatic psychedelics based on wild textures. A timid spell that seems to escape time and space and evade getting caught between day and night, that then suddenly needs to be rescued by our listening. Songs like “Stomper” sound like a massage with a happy ending, like a phase that is completed. It could even be said that in ‘music refracted through the memory of a memory,’ Lynch goes a step further. Did I hear someone say post-hypnagogic?
When asked about this recently, Lynch confessed that he is pleased to be included in the hypnagogic sack, especially because under this adjective, as he says, a group of musicians is being formed according to their methods or procedures, and not so much by their results. With Julian Lynch, then, we must understand music as a means. The process is very important. The results too, but less so. “Mare” is more a means than an end, and in this sense, it could fall apart at any of its corners. Nevertheless, from the first approach, it is clear that Lynch reaches the goals he has set for himself. His almost transparent spirit and bucolic fragility do not suffer from the heaviness of some of the other current neoclassical ambient proposals (I’m thinking of North). On the contrary, his dissident folk floats ethereally like a light summer breeze, at times weighing anchor in forgotten weird ports of the genre. Yes, there are sections where Currituck Co.’s guitars seem to want to melt into land staked out by Atlas Sound. Little by little, the trotting of this feather-weight mare gains in brilliance. He says that everything in “Mare” is about the need to find your place in the world, and this is exactly how this work remains engraved on your retina. Like one of those album-refuges that you don’t think you need to inhabit until you suddenly find yourself trapped inside them.