Lumisokea’s Mnemosyne creaks open to a provocative sonic world where discordant elements push and pull at the fabric of time. There’s that fictional sense of dread and despair that can be found through their past releases, like the soundtrack of a horror film. But on this occasion there’s also something unhinging about Mnemosyne as it draws the listener into the unknown, and it’s alien sonic landscape with the opening bars of Flatland, and the sound of that creaking gate, your last touch with reality. It’s like nothing you would’ve heard before. Lumisokea seem to take inspiration from a biomechanical world, where the sound of rain drops on a sync roof dance around an electrical hum in the ether, and they present in this strictly composed forms that give the listener a doorway to an exotic world of sounds and sensations. It’s herein which Lumisokea’s music is particularly effective. They manage to present an experimental aptitude as something that could be accessible, where rolling bass lines and even the appearance of a regular four on the floor percussive beat is entangled in harsh sonic apparitions. Tracks like Prowl or Risacca marry two seemingly unrelated worlds in a way that sees pedestrian musical elements walk hand in hand with the introspective, encouraging a tentative examination of the murky sonic atmosphere that lies beyond it.
In many ways its the result of the Belgian / Italian duo’s ability to combine the world of synthesis with the world of concrete music where organic processed samples and vintage synthesisers find a common ground. For Mnemosyne, Lumisokea took advantage of a weeklong residency at W.O.R.M studios in Rotterdam, to improvise with the studio’s synthesisers from the 60’s and 70’s, which then laid the foundation for the album. The sounds they created were built from the ground up, transporting the ageing equipment into a modern world with an updated dialect. There’s a heavy predisposition towards the lower frequencies in Lumisokea’s work, and this latest album is no different, even drawing on elements of Dubstep and Techno through these synthesisers, while processed gamelan bells, acoustic percussion and a prepared piano join forces to create immense sonic environments that entice without overwhelming the listener. And while the sound design plays an impressive role on the album, its successes can by and large be attributed to the compositional process behind Mnemosyne.
Using the raw improvisations as the foundation from which to build the songs, Lumisokea revisits these moments and transmutes them into something far more controlled than a simple improvised moment. Like Jackson Pollock reworking his paintings on an easel after the fact, Lumisokea revise their improvisations as composition, and as a result they take on a defined form rather than solely rely on the immediacy of an improvised expression. “The whole process felt like cultivating a garden of the imagination which is no rush to be opened to the visitors,” says Lumisokea of the results. “With this full length album we explore the more nocturne, narrative and twilight-like angle of Lumisokea. When listening back to it, we had strong images evoking times in an unidentified or un-actualised past, like places and events that could have existed, but then didn’t. Hence our reference to ‘Mnemosyne’, the ancient Greek goddess of Memory.”
It’s in exploring the nocturne angle of Lumisokea where the feeling of Mnemosyne exists in abundance. It’s in the way that gate creaks open during to that “garden of imagination” where Lumisokea find a n equal footing with the listener in evoking memories in which the corporeal gives way to the visceral. It’s not so much that Mnemosyne paints a particular picture of a scene, but rather gives the listener the feeling of said scene, and that always works far better on a universal level. As such where previous works like “Eavesdropping on Pianists” and “Apophenia” were appreciated for their skill and experimentalist aptitude, Mnemosyne thrives in beauty of the narrative of the album. It’s by no means an easy listening experience however, and moments like Hearsay’s harsh tonal feedbacks can distress the average listener, but the effect of counterpointing the more difficult experimental moments with some reserved and calculating compositional forms offer a far more rounded Lumisokea experience. Mnemosyne is Lumisokea doing what they do best – merging the experimental with accessible, while avoiding strict musical categorisation. Their scope is broad, but they manage to find a space, between acoustic, electronic, concrete and even dance music, to exist. It’s a very narrow space they manage to occupy, but they make it work and on Mnemosyne their ability exceeds known expectations.