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Lowercase Noises - This Is For Our Sins CD (album) cover


Lowercase Noises


Post Rock/Math rock

3.96 | 6 ratings

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4 stars An incredible (true) story set to wondrous music

Every time another quality work is released by Lowercase Noises I am amazed anew that this artist has not caught on at ProgArchives. This album is yet another winner that is available for a test drive on Bandcamp, so hopefully more of our reviewers will give it a fair chance.

Lowercase Noises is the musical project of multi-instrumentalist Andrew Othling who hails from Albuquerque, NM. Andrew is building quite the respectable catalog of beautiful and accomplished post-rock/instrumental (primarily) prog albums and this one is no exception. What made this album particularly compelling is the interesting true story that inspires it. It's about a Russian family who fled the Bolshevik's religious persecution. After one of their family members was shot, they fled into the wilderness and kept going, deeper and deeper. They ended up completely off-the-grid, living in total isolation from human contact from the 1930s into the 1970s. They had no knowledge of world war 2. They were discovered by researchers who documented their family's amazing story. They were in a part of Siberia so remote that even Russian military never went in that zone. Most of the family have since passed away, but one of the children born in 1943 continues to live in her family's hidden homestead to this very day!

"This album follows the story of the Lykov family, who lived isolated in the Russian wilderness for over 40 years before their discovery by geologists in 1978. Agafia, born in the wilderness in 1943, is the last remaining member of the family. She continues to live in the harsh Siberian landscape to this day." -Liner notes

Othling himself seems inspired by the story as well, creating some of his most elaborate arrangements and pushing further with the colorful elements he employs alongside his guitar. Some of his albums are more to the ambient side but on Sins he has included more vocals and guests musicians. The album opens with lovely choral vocals, there are cellos, percussion, even banjos! Of course it soars with lots of emotional welling and release, building up into great volume before easing into quieter sections led by piano or cello. But great care is taken to make the melody and force of each track match the chapter of the story. The story is not told in the traditional lyrical method but by the music. Thus one has to read a bit about the family's story and then the song titles and the music make sense. "Silence of Siberia" is a slow piano meditation that would fit onto an Eno album. "The Hungry Years" introduces the banjo which works surprisingly well in his style, imparting the rural challenged of the family's struggle against the elements, as well as the rustic beauty.

The banjo returns many times throughout the album while Othling uses his guitar up against it, the two instruments perhaps representing the family's emotions versus the curiosities of the outside visitors and the world. While Othling is usually more than capable of expression with his guitar alone, telling this human story required the use of vocalists and they are so on the mark, just gorgeous solo singing and harmonies lift several tracks into the stratosphere. Jenny Thomas I believe is the main soloist and she is incredible here. The overall effect of the music just breaks down your walls and takes you into the world of these people in a way that written word cannot. You must read the story first which you can find by googling the article below. Once you do, this music will blow your mind. I've never been a huge fan of post-rock in general and I'm certainly no expert as to where this music fits into the genre against its contemporaries, but I do know that this guy is a compelling musician whose compositions have always moved me.

"The daughters spoke a language distorted by a lifetime of isolation. "When the sisters talked to each other, it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing"..... All that Agafia and Dmitry knew of the outside world they learned entirely from their parents' stories. The family's principal entertainment was for everyone to recount their dreams..... Agafia's unusual speech---she had a singsong voice and stretched simple words into polysyllables---convinced some of her visitors she was slow-witted; in fact she was markedly intelligent. She thought nothing of hard work, either, excavating a new cellar by hand late in the fall. Asked whether she was not frightened to be out alone in the wilderness after dark, she replied: "What would there be out here to hurt me?"...... Perhaps the saddest aspect of the Lykovs' story was the rapidity with which the family went into decline after they re-established contact with the outside world. In the fall of 1981, three of the four children followed their mother to the grave within a few days of one another."

-A few excerpted sentences from a great Smithsonian article by Mike Dash. (Just google Lykov, Mike Dash, and Smithsonian, and it should pop up the article for you)

The album is available as a limited edition red-vinyl double album, a lovely presentation for enthusiasts. It is also available via download for Lowercase Noises' site. Find them on Bandcamp and sample many of their fine releases.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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