It seems befitting that nostalgia plays a significant part in Chicago based outfit Lore City, a duo comprising the haunting vocals of Laura Mariposa and guitarist Eric Bessel. It was only the night before I'd taken a sojourn through Slim Whitman's old clips, lamenting the absence of steel guitar, whilst recovering from the theatrical Sonic Youth documentary '1991: The Year Punk Broke.' It's a strange paradox, I admit. These artists are mentioned for two reasons a) Lore City feature a lap steel through their tracks and b) If you need to be transported back to the experimental sounds of the 90's, their LP (released in June 2014) 'Kill Your Dreams' will do just that.
Both admit to drawing heavily from their musical influences from the 80's and 90's. "I have a natural tendency to blend those sensibilities into my sounds, like grunge guitar or dream synth," Mariposa advises. "Growing up, it was all about PJ Harvey, Pink Floyd and Radiohead." For Bessel, he spent time listening to underground artists like, "Iceburn, Bluetip, Falling Forward, and Planes Mistaken For Stars. As time passed, I began to expand my palette to the more experimental sounds of Pleasure Forever, Swans, and Lisa Germano." It's worth noting, as Lore City remind me of a time when staying up late to watch Twin Peaks was the definitive moment in the week you lived for. There was something achingly experiential and jaunting about it. But, as with most things that inject your senses, it gets into your being and starts becoming … addictive.
Mariposa explains fans feel the same way, "our sound is unique, and people often say it wasn't what they expected to hear from a duo. I take it as a compliment." As she elaborates on the second type of feedback, I find myself nodding in agreement – this I can resonate with, "we also have a recurring theme of people coming up to us after a show and saying our music made them feel like they were in a David Lynch movie." Here's where the luxurious element of Lore City permeates through. It is not by any means a safe playlist of songs, tracks where you 'clap your hands and bop your head'. They do not feature on this album. There are no 'pop filled sensibilities' and unequivocal demonstration of rhythm. No. If you need predictability, then Lore City might well turn your world inside out and upside down.
However, if you are in need for ethereal vocals, maybe a pared back version of the 1994 classic album 'Live Through This' by Hole (Mariposa at times reminds me of the earlier, more lilting sounds of Courtney Love) then clearing time to absorb the subtle power of this album is in order. As Bessel states, "we've received good feedback from performing in the Midwest and Northeastern US." He tells me the band keep getting added to concerts, "where the other acts play dream-pop or garage rock, so our music tends to stand out in contrast, but people seem to like hearing something new."
It is a dreamy soundtrack. Closing your eyes and seeing where the music takes you, is part of the unnerving yet incredibly comforting presence the band's music provide. Mariposa tells me, the band's name, Lore City, "references the revolving door of tale types that people reenact throughout their lives." She explains that, "every story can boil down to a few basic elements, the rest is just details. As a people, we've been reenacting these same stories from the very beginning of existence—love, war, peace—all of it." I love the philosophy of this, "it's what we do, it's how we live, and its what our music is all about."
The 'Kill Your Dreams' cover features the fine art photography of Kim Keever, a stunning visual. Interestingly, Mariposa and Bessel met in the "black and white darkrooms of Syracuse University's art school in the early 00's." Bessel explains they both had a passion for photography. It wasn't until years later, "we reconnected in Chicago, when I was in town to meet with a gallery owner – and we've been inseparable ever since." It's truly a serendipitous meeting. Between the pair, their talent as musicians is impressive - they play piano, keyboards, guitar, percussion and of course, the lap steel. Any band that can deliver a song called 'Glitter on the Garbage' (which I keep getting drawn back to), its gotta be listened to.
For new fans wanting to check out what's on Lore City's rotation, I'd highly recommend it (and of course, their album first!):
Laura: "Some newer influences are Lower Dens, Swans, and Scout Niblett. Also in heavy rotation on our turntable are Death Blues, Follakzoid, and Grimes."
Eric: "These days, I find myself listening to a lot of Lubomyr Melnyk, Jozef Van Wissem, and Master Musicians of Bukkake. I think outside of conventional song structures, and seek out like-minded artists, who do the same with their music."
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