Me Lost Me’s new album is RPG and it’s an intoxicating mix of folk and electronics, like coming across a bank of Moogs in a forest clearing where wood nymphs and faeries are operating patch bays and tweaking oscillators. It’s hard to understate the beauty and strength running throughout the tracks on the album which can be haunting, soothing, and reflective with occasional flashes of something ominous lurking in the dark corners. The melding traditional folk elements such as harp, flute and violin with modern electronic sounds is seamless and the production is bravura with every voice and instrument having the space to breathe.
Joyzine has the great pleasure of bringing you a track by track breakdown of RPG by Me Lost Me’s Jayne Dent who talks about the blurred lines between video games and reality, the inspirations for songs, the climate crisis, sleep delirium, the joy of collaborating and much more. There are also there are details on where to buy the album along with social media links below.
01 Real world
This track features samples taken from a conversation with artist Adam Wilson Holmes about video games and the blurring of real and unreal, recorded while walking around the Duston Staithes on the south bank of the Tyne River.
02 Eye Witness
My first job was in the cloakroom at a nightclub, where I sat at the bottom of an infinity mirrored stairwell. A disorienting space when sober, this song is about watching drunk people try to fight each other but falling down, thrown by the confusing repetition of limbs, bodies and steps. It’s an embellished retelling of real events, but also about repetitive cycles of fighting and shows of masculinity. The repetition happens through the infinity mirrors but also through time “thousands of men, fall again and again, to the bottom floor forever”.
It begins as a kind of slow military march that becomes increasingly unhinged and chaotic. The clarinet part at the end imitates an emergency vehicle siren. Kaoss pad samples are supposed to replicate smashing glass.
03 Festive Day
This song was inspired by attending the Sankt Hans festival in Aarhus on midsummer’s eve, where they light huge bonfires along the coast, where you can see them disappearing into the distance with the right vantage point. The year I went had torrential rain, but the fire was so big that it was able to keep alight. There was thick fog across the sea, and the smell of damp sand, earth, wood and smoke, as the sun set. The song is about this intense bringing together of elements and senses.
The environment is all-consuming As air, as sand, as sea, as fret, as rain, as heat, this air, this sand, this sea, has eaten all of me” in its sensuality, and alludes to a common theme in trad May day/summer solstice folk songs which connects the celebration of the natural world to fertility, desire and sex.
Rising and falling patterns tick under the track in the strings, with a middle section which washes all the rhythmic sounds out before letting them emerge again
This is a song about the feeling of enjoying the unusually hot summer while also being frightened of the underlying implications of rising temperatures/climate change. It references terrifying and surreal footage from a specific news story about an oil spillage in the ocean where it appeared that the water had caught on fire.
The arrangement is intentionally unnerving and tense, with samples of digitally chopped-up bird sounds starting the track. The electronic beats and percussive sul-ponticello double bass are like a ticking clock that is constantly shifting its pace.
The lyrics on the surface seem quite cheerful at points “a picnic and midsummer fun!”, highlighting the feeling of the anxiety creeping up during what should be a pleasant midsummer picnic. There’s folk choir at the very end of the song who join in on the word “Heat!” introducing a sudden shift in the direction of a solemn hymn
05 Mirie it is While Sumer Ilast
This is a cover of a traditional song in Middle English (13th Century) in a new arrangement I worked on for 10 part polyphony. It’s one of the oldest documented non-religious songs in the English language.
The lyrics translated into modern English: Merry it is while summer lasts with the birdsong, but now nears the wind’s blast and the weather strong. oh, how this night is long and I with very much wrong, sorrow and mourn and fast
06 The God of Stuck Time
The lyrics of this song were written in an airport hotel room when I couldn’t sleep, after having spent hours killing time playing The Forgotten City on my laptop while traveling. I kept seeing the face of the character who greets you at the beginning of each game when I was half asleep, who was stopping me sleeping and keeping me in that weird in-between space.
The game has a time loop mechanic, which is also referenced in the song, and equated with that feeling of trying to get to sleep over and over. The references to Gods and shrines are also directly inspired by that specific game.
The backing synth and samples are disorientating and from different sound worlds, jittery and smooth and bubbling as though they’re trying to stop you from settling into anything for too long, it’s intentionally restless until the very conclusion of the song, where with “checking in again, checking out” sung by the folk choir, we resign ourselves to the fact that we’re stuck in this between-place.
It was originally planned to be a spoken word piece. I improvised the melody instead as an experiment in one take over the soundscape, and that became the final tune instantly;
“I imagine that these visions are so bright that everyone must be having the same one: Millions of people trying to dream but stuck in this time loop purgatory as soon as their eyes close, delivered to a massively multiplayer online dream, malware for the mind – everyone is here”.
There is a sense of a shared delirium, when you can’t sleep in the middle of the night you can feel like you’re the only one awake – but then if you find yourself checking your phone you see that so many people are sharing the sleeplessness, plugged into the internet alongside people from around the world.
07 Side Quest
This one was co-written remotely with Rhodri Davies. I sent a list of prompts/lyrics/song ideas to Rhodri over email, who then recorded improvisations on harp in response to a selection of them. This track is built around his improvisations on “unexpected pauses” and “a song that interrupts itself”, which I then resampled and built additional synth-harp instruments from (as well as adding other electronics and voice)
The title is in reference to the side quest game mechanic, which pauses or interrupts the main narrative but is crucial for world building. It’s at the midpoint of the album and invites listeners to take a detour for a short while.
08 The Oldest Trees Hold the Earth
I Co-wrote this song in Aarhus, Denmark, with Ditte Elly.
This song is about becoming a tree, belonging, stretching out time and being around ancient nature. It is a love song to Højbjerg and Mosegård, woodlands next to the beach in Aarhus, Denmark where I used to live and where Ditte currently lives. We were both fascinated by this particular place and its unique biome and landscape.
We wrote the lyrics together while sitting in the woods in silence, passing a piece of paper between us and writing alternating short phrases. We then took this back to Ditte’s home and went line by line improvising the close vocal harmonies that form the melody. This method meant that we were both surprised by the twists and turns the lyrics and melodies took when listening to it back in full.
Because we were trying to fit a text to music, it has the quality of a Sacred Harp song or a sung psalm.
The song is written mostly in English, but has one line in Danish which translates to “the earth is dry, waiting for rain”.
This one is co-written with clarinettist Faye MacCalman, and is an experiment in voice and clarinet as dueting lead instruments. We got together and discussed starting points for writing, and Faye presented this short motif that forms the basis of the track. We then improvised around those few notes, recording as we went, and afterwards pieced together the track forming its final journey through four sections of looped and layered clarinet, voice, saxophone and double bass.
We had a really playful approach to making this piece together, letting ourselves get carried away by the sounds and getting inspired by ideas of clashing and colliding, tiny things, kaleidoscopes, fissures when arranging and improvising it
10 In Gardens
This song is about caring for people, plants and yourself – inspired by visits to botanical gardens, and the weirdness of wild things being kept so orderly. It is about feeling like a wild thing that needs care/ordering, and how these gardens can be so comforting in their tidiness, if a bit divorced from reality.
I was thinking about equating gardens with simulation games; in that they’re not necessarily ‘real’ but they can still bring comfort and be comforting spaces.
It is about how taking care of something/someone else can help pull you out of a bad place yourself. I read advice saying that if you give yourself the task to always water plants every day, it was a good place to start when feeling like you were struggling with day-to-day living. As the song concludes “in caring for you, I’m caring for me too, well it’s about time – the care I neglect so often is mine”
The arrangement of this song is intentionally very loose – with the vocal samples, clarinet and double bass largely acting independently of one another as though they are individual plants growing in a garden. Together they form this space we are in, the characters are walking around it, as the individual flowers bloom to the sides, unaware of the people going by.
11 Until Morning
This is a love song to games, after falling deeply in love with gaming through the covid-19 pandemic during lockdowns. In previous writing I gravitated towards making songs about real landscapes, and would often write music after a trip somewhere, but with covid I was unable to get out and experience them as much, so I found inspiration in imaginary landscapes instead. It is about escapism and exploration, and about having an emotional connection to an imaginary place.
It’s about not wanting to complete a video game as it means saying goodbye to that world/story, and having to return to the real-world. The track is specifically written about Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was the first RPG game I played through in full and the lyrics have direct references to the gameplay – “until morning” is an option you can select when you want to rest by a fire.“Hundreds of hours doing more than I’d ever dare, climbing a mountain just to see what’s there” summarises the time I spent in that world.
The instrumentation was specifically chosen to reference the music in BOTW, with flutes and piano featuring heavily much like in the game’s score.
12 Science and Art
The album closes on a love song to everyone who has ever made anything. It’s a song about the feeling of appreciation and joy that comes from experiencing art, and feeling grateful for the work of others throughout history. It’s inspired by looking at works of art, but also other creative and communicative acts like coming up with place names and the development of languages.
It is about the human need for creativity, the compulsion to make things – not for any praise or pat on the back, but just because it’s what we need to feel fulfilled. It’s about the desire to encourage others to make stuff, especially when they have been told they aren’t any ‘good’ at it. “Not because we need it to last, just because we needed to make it – so we invented the words, this language”
Introduction by Paul F Cook