The definition of soul music can be tricky… but it need not be. Of course, soul music is very obviously Otis Redding reaching deep inside himself to try a little tenderness somewhere on a stage in Europe. But it can also be found in places that don’t exist on a map. Like the spaces found within the witching hour soundtracks created by Lo Five. By Alan O’Hare.
“It’s like meditation bells. The sound rings out for ages until it’s silent, but it’s difficult to know exactly the moment it ends. The point being that you sort of become the empty silent space.” Aesthetics are the currency that count in modern music. But whereas the likes of, say, The War On Drugs or Future Islands hide a lack of truly great songs behind a popular and one dimensional sound, the deep landscape electronics of Lo Five exist to create space. It’s the sound, not the song… to misappropriate a popular Mick Jagger quote.
Lo Five is multi-instrumentalist Neil Grant, born in Liverpool and now living in Hoylake, and his debut album arrived fully formed this year. ‘When It’s Time To Let Go’ is mood music that will fight all the interruptions around you to take up residence in your head. Your heart? That’s tougher with electronic music, but Lo Five specialises in dropping fragments of field recordings and the emotional geography that exists within all of us into the deep valleys of melodic electronica. It’s music made in the city, but not of it, and there’s an ethereal charm that will take you wherever you want to be.
A few years back, famed producer Jon Hopkins teamed up with Scottish folk hero King Creosote to release ‘Diamond Mine’, an album combining Creosote’s songs with field recordings by Hopkins. The record was a hit and nominated for the Mercury Music Prize back in 2011 – and its quiet impact has been felt ever since. It’s there in the ice cold colours of The xx, you can hear it in the jagged edges of Arcade Fire and its benign influence is all over Lo Five’s debut.
“What is this thing in life that persuades me to spend/Time away from you?/If you can answer this you can have the moon.” Paul McCartney said that on 1989’s ‘Distractions’, recently remastered as part of the ‘Flowers In The Dirt’ reissue, and it’s a question that’s been eating at me recently. Soak up the likes of ‘Leave You Alone’, ‘Death To Innovation’ and ‘Machinations Of The World’, from Lo Five’s debut album, and you’ll be thinking about it, too, as this crafted work of question marks and ellipses refuses to engage with straight lines.
Crackling synths, broken pianos, rattling percussion and overheard voices may dominate the sound of Lo Five, but ‘When It’s Time To Let Go’ has a beating heart all of its own.
Image courtesy of Patterned Air