In the same year that Joyzine has turned 20 the extraordinary record label Lost Map turns 10. As part of the celebrations label owner Johnny Lynch (AKA Pictish Trail) has brought together many of the artists he has released and put together the Lost Map party and record the Weird Wave album. Lost Map is run from Johnny’s home on The Isle of Eigg and he is no conventional label boss, counting the people whose music he releases to be friends. The players on this record – Kate Lazda (guitar), Craig Angus (guitar/keys), Bart Owl (bass), Susan Bear (synths), Iain Stewart (drums), L.T. Leif (vocals/keys) and Robyn Dawson (violin) – all said yes straight away when asked to participate and Lynch says:
“without wanting to sound overly earnest, the core of the project is the spirit of friendship. Lost Map isn’t some hobby label, it is my full-time job, occupying my every waking thought – but it’s also completely reliant on the support of my friends. I wanted this new group to reflect that sense of togetherness”, he wanted to “commemorate it in a way that felt special”. As with their special Visitations series where artists come to beautiful solitude of the island to write, so the members of the Weird Wave band travelled to Eigg for a week to record.
No music was preprepared in advance and everything was recorded during sessions at the Glebe Barn hostel on a “windswept late winter hillside” with the players and their equipment set up in a circle by the fire. Intuition and spontaneity were the foundations for the writing sessions and within the first two days they had the basis of seven songs which were then further finessed to the final versions you hear on the album. For example, the opening track ‘The Prospect’, came from a chord progression from Bart, Craig and Kate; which Susan built on with synth triplets.
There is a psychedelic core that runs through the album like a seam of gold. Songs will often appear weightless and can easily carry you to a world drenched in a liquid light show, or they can be taut and propelled along on motorik beats. ‘Swamp Down’ and ‘Unrecognise!’ have a percussive jitter underpinning them like a typewriter made by Talking Heads but coloured in by the B-52’s.
Often, as with ‘Prospect’ and ‘Message Clear’ the guitar is pulling out rotational riffs and tunefully angular counterpoints to the beauty of the vocal lines but then on a song like ‘Big Jetty’ everything locks together in a gentle procession holding the precious tune and its harmony aloft with a dopamine keyboard riff popping up throughout.
The final two tracks are the Echo & The Bunnymen sounding ‘Magic Wire’ with its strummed guitar and haunted riff and ‘Astral Difficulties/Weird Wave’, tipping over the 9-minute mark with its elemental power which Lynch says came from “the sheer momentum of us all being together, facing one another in a room”. It is a tour de force; a hang-on-and-go-with-it ride on a psychedelic mechanical bull.
If Weird Wave is a distillation of the love and friendship Johnny Lynch feels towards his Lost Maps artists and how it is reciprocated then it explains why this feels like the second or third release from a band that gets hailed as their seminal work. There is so much warmth radiating from this record it’s as if they had managed to imbue it with heat from the fire they were recording by. Happy 10th Birthday Lost Map.
Review by Paul F Cook