Marc Tucker reviews Windblown Kiss in Progression Issue #41
Here we have an extremely surprising duet laying out wispy, torchy, lament music based in various Jazz styles (Brazilian, mild Samba, sophisticated New Age, West Coast cool, etc.). As one would guess, given the label, there’s also a quasi-Goth vibe attached.
Anji Bee possesses a melliflously wistful voice well-bedded in wunderkind Ryan Lum’s multi-instrumentality (endless strings, keyboards, percussion, etc.). This is exactly the sort of thing futiley sought in the catalogs of Basia, Lani Hall, Kenia, and the chantueses hyped to be as laid back as they ultimately proved incapable of – Astud Gilberto being the unmatched paradigm. Lum has a perfect ear for languidity, as sensitive to nuance and atmosphere as Bee’s beautiful modulations.
Multi-tracking her was a perfect choice; other voices wouldn’t have been nearly so accomodating. I’ll be amazed if this album doesn’t start showing up on mainstream playlists. It’s the equal of the crop’s best; a great deal better than most. If you long for premium romantic music to de-stress by, while still retaining your brains, this is it.
Ned Raggett reviews “Windblown Kiss”
When the original partnership of Ryan Lum and Suzanne Perry in Love Spirals Downwards dissolved, the result was a new romantic and musical union between Lum and singer/songwriter, Anji Bee. With the band slightly renamed to indicate the difference between the new directions the duo explored, the first effort from the two was the excellent Windblown Kiss.
Advantageously, it isn’t a radical departure from Lum’s earlier work this isn’t Mojave 3 as different from Slowdive, say but instead a fascinating and beautiful new path that draws from his past without repeating it. It’s evident not merely in his own playing he’s just as apt to explore moody blues licks, acoustic flamenco and bossa nova lines, as well as his trademark digital delay lushness but the range of the songs as a whole.
Bee’s singing is key here instead of the angelic bliss-out of Perry, her approach blends that touch with a subtly sassier tang, reflecting her love for singers like Billie Holiday. Indeed, much of the album feels like a performance at a very classy (but not dull) late-night establishment, with subtle grooves and the sense of passionate love suffusing the air. That she can manage the wonderfully romantic Spanish-language song “Dejame,” with appropriately delicate Latin pop arrangements — not to mention equally fine singing elsewhere in German and French — as well as a cover of an obscurity by America, “You Girl,” gives a good sense of her abilities.
With fine guest work from Doron Orenstein on saxophone and, in two excellent duets with Bee, “How the Thieves Ride” and “You Are the Gun,” Eden’s Sean Bowley on both vocals and guitar, Windblown Kiss adds up as an enveloping, invigorating listen that avoids any easy “Goth” tag to find its own darkly passionate medium. (4 stars)
May 2002, Jive Magazine, Russ Marshalek
Q: When did the Ryan/Anji collaborations begin, and how did that come to be? Is it a 50/50 sort of artistic collaboration, with one person writing music and the other writing vocals?
Anji: Ryan and I started working together late 1998, early 1999. We pretty much hooked up through my radio show on KUCI 88.9fm (in Irvine, CA). He had me come over to his studio to check out some new stuff he was working on (which later turned out to be ‘Beatitude’ and ‘Love Survives’) and I was really into it. The first two songs we did, “Ecstatic” and “Hand in Hand,’ Ryan made dub plates of; he was more heavily into deejaying at that time.
We actually write the songs together. There’s no one way we compose, exactly, but lately we’ve been working from guitar and vocal lines first. I go around singing things all the time, so I’ve got a backlog of song ideas to work on whenever he’s ready. Ryan plays guitar and bass, and can hack out stuff on keyboard, so he does all of that for us. He does most of the programming, too, I pretty much just co-write and produce along side of him. I don’t really play any instruments, but I’m into sampling and looping, and know my way around ProTools and Peak, which is what we basically use.
Writing music is a really interesting, complex thing ‘ it’s difficult to describe the process of give and take that goes into it.
Q: How did you come to be such a fan of LTJ Bukem and Good Looking records?
Ryan: It started when I first heard LTJ Bukem’s Logical Progression: Level 1. Disc 1 was amazing, but when I finally got around to disc 2, my world had been majorly rocked. There’s some amazing songs on there, like the opening Funky Technicians song, and Photek’s remix of ‘Pharaoh’, and Seba’s ‘So Long’ which was my favorite song is the world for quite a few years.
I’ve seen a few of the Good Looking crew DJ out here. Of course, Bukem has been out many times at big events, but I was lucky enough to see some Seba and PFM DJ’ing at some very intimate clubs. PFM played several dub plates of some of the most amazing unreleased stuff I’ve ever heard, with samples from old blues and jazz recordings thrown in.
Q: Ryan, I’ve read that you DJ out at clubs regularly. Is this still the case? What genres of music do you tend to play most, and why?
Ryan: I haven’t DJ’d out for quite a while now, perhaps a year. There are many reasons why, but it’s mainly because I wanted to focus all my time into recording and completing my album. Prioritizing is important and completing the album was my highest priority. DJ’ing would have taken away from my music making time.
When I began, I was playing a lot of atmospheric and jazzy drum and bass. Over time, my sets had less and less drum and bass and more down tempo. The last bunch of records I just bought on a recent trip to San Francisco was all jazzy deep house, which I’ve become more fond of lately. Jazz step seems to have kinda died while jazz lives on strong in deep house. I’m not prejudiced to any kind of beat or genre. As long as the music is moving, I’m there.
Anji: One of the last gigs Ryan did was a sunrise set for the chill-out room of a smaller rave event. Not sure if anyone would have him out to a huge rave, but if they had a chill area, I’m sure he could pull it off just fine. We’ve been talking about maybe working up a tag-team set, because we both love collecting music and I’ve bought at least half of the most recent 12’s. I’ve always wanted to try MC’ing a little bit to his sets, so that’s another option we might follow up on sometime.
Q: Do you find yourselves fans of other genres of dance music outside of the jazz-step area? If so, what? Any particular DJs or producers you’re fans of or interested in?
Ryan: As I mentioned, we’re interested in Deep House, and we know many DJ’s and producers of House. Our sax player, Doron, is on Subliminal Records, a well known NY house label. His band, Monkey Bars, is about to take off with some very catchy vocal house songs. We also like down tempo; anything that’s got a soulful groove really.
Anji: I really love a lot of the producers on OM, and Naked Music has some nice stuff coming out, too. I tend to be more vocal based in my interests than Ryan, and sometimes I like stuff a little harder or more experimental than he does. I listen to a lot of electronica of different genres, but he’s a little pickier. My current favorite is definitely Soulstice. I think we have a lot in common with them, musically. I dig really poppy stuff like Everything But the Girl, Sade, Olive, Lamb, Mandalay, Halou ‘ I could go on and on with that list!
Q: Where do you stand on the issue of electronic song downloading via sources such as, MP3.com, and all the Napster clones that have risen up?
Ryan: I think legal mp3s and streaming audio are great ways to get more people aware of you and your music. The bad side is that there’s people who may never buy your record, and instead, spend hours and days searching for illegal mp3s. Digital music on the Internet a two-edged sword for sure.
Anji: I’m a total Internet music junky! There are a number of sites I frequent with perfectly legal mp3s, and those are really a blessing to me. I have definitely gone out and bought albums from bands that I found out about through mp3s! In fact, most of the albums I’ve picked up over the past 2 years have been ones that I fell in love with through mp3s first. I’d like the think that the same could be happening for us.
Q: Your upcoming album actually moves AWAY from the ambient drum and bass sound, and back towards older, more Love Spirals Downwards sounding music. Was this a conscious move? Where do you see the Lovespirals sound going after this album?
Anji: We enjoyed creating Windblown Kiss very much, and we really poured a lot of ourselves into it, but at the same time, we were sorta thinking of Projekt Records when we were working on it. Not the whole time, obviously, but at some point in the process we made certain choices to tailor the song list towards acoustic based material and away from dance tracks. There are other songs we recorded during this same time period, like ‘Love Survives,’ that we chose not to include on this album.
When we sent Projekt the Ecstatic EP, their advice was to ‘cut out all the crazy drums’ and then they’d be into it. I was like, ‘this is break beat music, it’s BASED on the drums, man!’ Windblown Kiss is more their cup of tea. We’ve kept the new Jazz elements Ryan had been working with, and then supplemented that with nice atmosphere, dreamy guitar, and soulful, yet ethereal vocals. It’s all very relaxing and sensual, as you might expect, its just a bit more organic than anything we’ve done together before. We have every intention of producing an album of more dance-based material next, though.
We’ve released a few songs on Water Music Records comps, and a few other things are coming out with some of our electronic stuff here and there, so hopefully we’ll catch the attention of the right label eventually.
Q: Where do you see yourselves, musically and/or personally, in ten years?
Ryan: That’s too hard to say; one never knows what life has in store for you. I’ll keep working hard, doing what I love, and that should mean that I’ll be making some great music still in 10 years.
Excerpt from the full interview at Jive Magazine.
Our friend, the poet and lyricist, Alex Lang, was kind enough to write up a lovely little press piece on our upcoming album:
WINDBLOWN KISS is the first full-length album by LOVESPIRALS, the beautiful, and beautifully surprising collaboration of RYAN LUM (the driving force behind legendary LOVE SPIRALS DOWNWARDS) and avant-garde singer/songwriter ANJI BEE.
Renown multi-instrumentalist LUM once again creates musical landscapes of breathtaking beauty – and with vocal styles ranging from ethereal to earthy, sweet to sensual, BEE shows off her remarkable vocal range, and allows the full force of her voice to soar into the sublime.
Drawing inspiration from Flamenco, Bebop, soul, folk and the stacks of early vinyl they each grew up loving, LOVESPIRALS has created a timeless world of romance and intrigue. Leaving behind the conventional restraints of dance-floor tracks, this latest endeavor is at once a dreamscape of nostalgia, and a kiss blown to the future.
Using half a dozen different guitars, and featuring the extraordinary talents of DORON ORENSTEIN (of TOOF!) on saxophones, and SEAN BOWLEY (of EDEN) on acoustic guitar and vocals, WINDBLOWN KISS is a celebration of creative anachronism: the past and the future negotiate a gorgeous balance.
Lovespirals is, in some sense, a reincarnation of the now defunct but long beloved Love Spirals Downwards. The two bands share in common multi-instrumentalist Ryan Lum, whose shimmering guitar work and lush electronic soundscapes helped define the ethereal genre in the mid to late 1990s. And they share a certain aesthetic — a languorous fascination with gossamer guitar textures and celestial female vocals. But it’s also — make no mistake — its own entity, having formed in 1999 shortly after the fruitful partnership between Lum and vocalist Suzanne Perry dissolved. Partnering with vocalist/songwriter Anji Bee, Lum formed Lovespirals, a new band with a name that evokes the familiar while creating space for the provocative — a one-word manifesto for a two-person union.
Inspired by their emersion in the California drum ‘n’ bass scene, Lum and Bee initially led Lovespirals down the sonic trail that LSD blazed on its final album, Flux. The group’s early tracks blended jazz-step breakbeats with relaxed saxophone workouts and Bee’s warm, enveloping vocals — elements that epitomized the California downtempo underground. After appearing on a number of popular chill-out compilations, and following the smashing success of several tracks released through MP3.com, the band set out to record a full-length album for Projekt. Radically changing courses, Lovespirals began composing new material with a stronger pop sensibility, building songs around narrative lyrics, sharp melodic hooks, and organic instrumental sounds. The resulting album, Windblown Kiss, marks another step in Lum’s evolution, and signals the arrival of Bee as a mature vocalist/songwriter. Saxophonist Doron Orenstein, of Toof!, and Sean Bowley, of Eden, provide further departure points, coloring the album with subtle hues of Jazz and World Beat, and helping to produce a post-Shoegazer masterwork.
The irony in all of this, of course, is that the band has managed to defy its fan base, its label,the very confines of genres with an album that’s gentle on the ears and soul — a gauzy confection that challenges without confrontation. Lovespirals’ performance at ProjektFest 2002 will mark a rare live appearance by the group, which plans to support Windblown Kiss with a few exclusive shows before diving back into the studio to resume its obsessions with the almighty breakbeat; or perhaps to completely redefine themselves and their fans’ expectations all over again.
Lovespirals play the headlining slot of the 3 day festival’s opening night, as well as an intimate, stripped down performance the following evening for the Merchant’s Bazaar. Get more information from the ProjektFest site.
Lovespirals are gearing up to release our first full length album this Summer on Projekt Records. Are you excited yet? You will be after you read our snappy new bio:
Lovespirals are musician/producer Ryan Lum and singer/songwriter Anji Bee. This duo’s lush, sensual collaborative songwriting embraces numerous styles and sounds, creating a unique blend which defies genre categories altogether. Beginning their collaboration in 1999 with Jazz Step Drum & Bass dubplates spun in Ryan’s DJ sets, then continuing on with a series of singles released on compilations for various labels (including Water Music and Metropolis Records), the band has traversed vast musical territory to arrive at their first full-length album for Projekt Records. Due out June 18, 2002, Windblown Kiss, is focused on beautiful melodies based around Ryan Lum’s dreamy acoustic and electric guitar playing and Anji Bee’s versatile vocal work. This first full-length album also features special guest musicians Sean Bowey, of Eden, and Doron Orenstein, of Frescoe, on several tracks. Slow-burning Blues, Bebop Jazz, Flamenco-spiced Folk Rock, Western-tinged Dream Pop – Lovespirals blend all these influences and more into heady, intoxicating mixture. Romantic, spiritual, and utterly heartfelt, Windblown Kiss envelopes one in a beautifully soothing dream-drenched world, timeless in quality and essence.
MP3.com is currently running a feature on our DAM CD, Ecstatic EP on their Hot Artist Spotlight station for Jan/2002. The Ecstatic EP was created specifically for MP3.com to compile the Jazz-Step Drum ‘n’ Bass material we created from 1999 – 2000, all of which was lost during a computer meltdown. For those fans of our Jazzy Electronica sound — fear not — we will definitely return to creating Dance tracks in the future. The upcoming album, however, is a totally different sound — more akin to Ryan’s older work, but with a Lovespirals twist. Check out their review:
Perhaps most notably known in the Goth community under the moniker Love Spirals Downwards, with their Cocteau Twins sound. Frontman Ryan Lum has changed their sound, and shortened the name to just Lovespirals. Together with vocalist Anji Bee, Lovespirals has embraced the sound of Drum ‘n’ Bass and created a masterful relationship. Their release, Ecstatic EP, is a combination of sexy Jazz riffs, mellow breaks, and Bee’s seductive vocals. For those fans of Good Looking Records, Lovespirals could easily be found amongst their ranks in talent, and sound.
Staffer Kevin’s Top Ten Picks for 2001
“2001: 10 Best From a Year of Blood and Fire”
The Chinese curse about interesting times comes to mind when reviewing 2001: so does the line about rough beasts slouching toward Bethlehem. For much of 2001 world events made it difficult to concentrate on silly things like music and entertainment. Still, there were some excellent releases this year, as Gothic and Industrial Music lurched into the 21st century.
10/9 Tie: Lovespirals Ecstatic (Projekt) & Claire Voyant Time Again (Metropolis)
As synthpop’s rise led inexoribly to its decline, some Gothic/Industrial artists have started looking toward other avenues of inspiration. On these releases, Lovespirals and Claire Voyant provide tasty Illbient and Trip Hop influenced grooves and give us a harbinger of Goth’s Next BigThing.
(Ed. note: it should be noted that “Time Again includes a track by Lovespirals.)
April 2001, MacNETv2, Chris Volpe
Chris: Why the Mac platform and not Windows?
Ryan: Actually, we do have one Windows machine, a Compaq, that we use as the server for the studio and house. I’m interested in getting Mac OSX server one day, but I don’t have a spare Mac that I can use as a server right now. But back to your question, there are many reasons why we use Macs. The biggest one is that I enjoy working on them. When there is a problem, I can most often figure out what’s wrong and fix it myself, while PCs seem more complicated in that regard. I like the plug and play ease of use that Macs have. There’s nothing worse than trying for hours and days to get hardware working. Plus, Apple continues to create the most innovative products. If I had enough money, I’d go out today and buy the new flat panel G4 iMac for the office, an iBook for lighter work and playing games, a Titanium PowerBook for doing live shows, and a 1 ghz G4 to run a ton of audio plug ins in my studio. I can’t say that I want to rush out there and buy a copy of Windows XP.
Chris:: Do Macs enhance your creativity in any way?
Ryan: I don’t know if Macs make me more creative, but as far as computers go, they’re the least obtrusive in letting me get on with my creative work in the studio without being forced into thinking like a computer. You just point, click, drag, and don’t have to worry about anything else with regards to the computer. I see computers as a tool, a tool you use to get things done. I think Macs are by far the best platform for anyone who does music or graphics. Also for getting photos, mp3s, and video into and out of your computer, nothing can compete with Macs and all the new Apple software like iTunes, iMovie, and iPhoto. But if you’re a more nerdy C++ or ASP programmer, I’d say PCs are the way to go and a Mac wouldn’t be the right tool at all.
Chris:: Tell me some things about the new CD that you’d like the readers to know. How’s this recording different?
Ryan: This is the first time that I’ve had the recording quality that I’ve always wanted. The whole thing was recorded and mixed to 24 bit. In the past 4 or so years, the technology and cost have finally come together to allow truly great quality digital recordings. Still, you need to have the engineering and production skills, as well as good microphones and outboard gear, to take full advantage of it.
Anji: One of the most striking things about this album, for fans of the Lovespirals stuff Ryan and I did during 1999-2000, is that this is not an electronica album. We were doing drum ‘n’ bass club mixes when we first started collaborating, and that’s what we’ve been promoting online, and releasing on various compilations CDs. Our upcoming album, however, is guitar based listening music, with a very organic feel. I think some people will be surprised.
Chris:: Can you tell us anything interesting about how you used Macs to make it, and what software was involved?
Ryan: On “I Can’t See You”, the last song of our new album, there’s a brushed jazz drum kit that plays through the song. It sounds very real, and that’s because it was taken from a recording of a real performance. I ran the original recording — which was performed at a tempo too fast for my song — through Recycle, which sliced it up into smaller files. Then I sent those files to my sampler to playback in ProTools at my song’s correct tempo. This is a trick that electronic producers, particularly breakbeat ones, do often. I used it, instead, for a straight up bebop jazz song, and it worked perfectly. When you listen to the final outcome, you’d never guess that the drums were the result of so much technological manipulation.
Chris:: Can you please describe the process a typical song might go through from start to finish before it makes it onto a CD or the Web?
Anji: The way our dance tracks were written is completely different from how we wrote our album. The drum ‘n’ bass tunes were all sample and loop based, so we basically began with a break beat, worked up the rhythm sections, then added melodies, and finished them off with vocals. I wasn’t as involved in the songwriting process for those songs as I am now. I like making samples, so in several instances I found sounds for Ryan to work with, which he appreciated since that can be a really time consuming effort. I also gave writing suggestions and production assistance, but I was much more of a backseat driver then than I am now. I never really learned much about midi composing or Cubase, and that’s what he was using back then, in our old studio setup.
‘Oh So Long’ was the first song to break the old songwriting mold completely. That was written shortly after we set up our current studio, utilizing ProTools. Basically we were listening to some sax that our partner, Doron Orenstein, had recorded for us to use as sample food, looking for a good starting point. We started noticing certain bluesy passages that we liked, so we cut and pasted a few together, then let that loop play in ProTools, while Ryan started working out some chords on guitar. I was inspired to start singing along, so I found some lyrics I had written beforehand and joined in. The energy was really fantastic! We just kept jamming it until we had a clear verse and chorus defined. After that was settled, Ryan went into ProTools to lay down his basic guitar part and the sax. I’m not sure if the bass came next, or if we launched right into the vocal recording, but it all happened pretty fast. Then it was just a matter of filling in the song with percussion and additional guitar, including the solo work.
That song pretty much set a precedent for the rest of the album, as well as being the inspiration for us to continue to work with guitar. The whole feeling of writing the song together with guitar and vocals was very energizing for us. I had a whole huge backlog of lyric and vocal ideas stashed away so that any time I heard him strum a chord, I’d just kinda pop up and start singing. It became a bit of joke, really! He’d be practicing a new Jazz chord or mode then suddenly he’d hear me singing along, and be like ‘Oh no! Not again!’ I think we have half another album’s worth of demo ideas still left over.
Chris:: How long did the latest release take to produce?
Anji: The first song was written in July of 2001, and the last song was completed in January 2002. We did the bulk of the songwriting over the summer of 2001, then kinda slowed down a bit. Still, I guess it was all done in 6 months, which is amazing considering each of the 4 Love Spirals Downwards albums took Ryan about a year and a half to produce.
Chris:: Were the earlier Love Spirals Downwards recordings created with Macs too?
Ryan: No, they were recorded on analog tape recording gear and mixed down to DAT. The midi sequencing for flux was done on a Quadra 605 using Cubase, but the rest was recorded to analog and mixed down to DAT. I mastered flux on a Mac setup, at Robert Rich’s studio, which is where we also mastered the new album.
Chris:: You’re part of a digital music revolution, in a way, aren’t you?
Anji: Most definitely. It is rather fascinating to be at the head of a new trend in the music industry, to actually see the seeds of the future being planted, and to be able to watch those ideas grow and mature. Neither of us would ever have believed in the 80’s that we would one day have our very own 24 track digital recording studio, that’s for sure!
Chris:: What would things be like if you didn’t have digital music stuff at your disposal- what would you have to do to be able to do what you do now?
Anji: Whoa, I don’t even want to think about what a hassle it would have been for us to do our album without our current setup! All throughout the process we would come back to the thought that we have so much more control in the ProTools environment than either of us have had in any other studio setting. I had worked with ADAT back when that technology came out, and I thought that those were really cool, but compared to hard disc recording on a good system, they seem like behemoths!
CHRIS: How are Macs – and things like MP3.com – allowing you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do?
Anji: Our Macs have made it very easy for us to get involved in new online services like MP3.com; I create our MP3s with iTunes, after all. I love MP3s! I’m constantly finding new bands that I like on MP3.com and other services like BeSonic and IUMA. The media has really focused on the illegal MP3 trade, which is too bad, because there is also a thriving community of artists who freely share their music through that same format, as well as artists who actually make a little money selling their music that way. Lovespirals have been giving free MP3s away for about 2 years now.
Before the rise of MP3s, you were stuck using RealAudio, which isn’t nearly as nice sounding or user-friendly. RA seemed pretty cool at first, as a way to at least get the idea of the music across, but it was still pretty clunky. Ryan briefly started switching over to QuickTime files when Temporal was released, but now it’s all about mp3s.
“Indie goths gone electronic, LSD’s sound now sketches its past while tracing its future.”
“We’re the first and only for a lot of things on Projekt,” says Ryan Lum, the multi-instrumentalist and driving force behind Love Spirals Downwards, darkwave label Projekt Record’s top-selling act. Lum is sipping on a soda in a RadioSpy conference room and choosing his words carefully. He’s speaking of his band’s use of saxophone riffs on a song from its latest release, Temporal, a career retrospective that includes a number of unreleased tracks. Lum was concerned that Sam Rosenthal, Projekt Record’s sometimes finicky founder, might be less than enthusiastic about the sax track.
“[Rosenthal] actually made a positive comment about the saxophone. He said, ‘You know, it fits somehow,” recounts Anji Bee, Ryan’s self-described “partner-in-crime” and recent collaborator on everything from album art to vocals. Lum’s experimentation — with his sound and with the band’s direction — initially met with grudging acceptance from Rosenthal, who eventually warmed to the band’s new sound.
“It’s not his cup of tea,” Lum says of Rosenthal’s reaction to the band’s shift in sound from “shoegazer,” the ethereal style of feedback- and synth-drenched pop defined by British bands like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and the Cocteau Twins, to drum ‘n’ bass. “But we more or less have artistic freedom to do as we please. I guess being the top seller on the label doesn’t hurt us in that,” Lum says with a chuckle.
It doesn’t hurt, either, that both band and label are willing to adapt themselves to the ever-shifting dynamic of the musical marketplace, stylistically and commercially. Since he formed LSD in 1991, Lum has demonstrated a consistent willingness to embrace change within the group and the innumerable contexts in which they work — style being the most apparent of these but the emergence of the digital music marketplace running close on its heels.
“That’s something I’ve thought a lot about recently, and I’m not sure what to conclude,” Lum says contemplatively. “Check back in five years and see what’s up,” he says with a wry chuckle, knowing full well that five years is an eternity in Internet time.
But Lum, who works for a multimedia company that builds Web pages for major-market radio stations, is fully aware of the Internet’s potential to expand his band’s fan base and the need for independent musicians to move fast in order to capture an audience in the overcrowded digital music arena. On that front, LSD is already moving at light speed.
“Our site, Lovespirals.com, is a great source of information, and we update the news frequently. You can buy our stuff, and you can check out audio from all of our albums – really nice, high-quality audio that you can hear, even on a 56k modem stream. It’s much better than the RealAudio that we, or most people, have had in the past. That’s one thing that I’ve always hated about Internet audio: You spend a year and a half to make this great album, put all this money and time and love into it, and you want to show people on the Internet. And it’s just these crappy samples.”
“It’s like bad AM radio,” adds Bee, who handles a lot of the day-to-day work on the Love Spirals Downwards Web site — answering fan mail, fulfilling orders from their “e-store” and administrating their forums.
“Yeah, it’s horrible,” Lum agrees. “But now, I can put something up and say, ‘Yeah. This is it. Check it out. In stereo even. It sounds great.'”
And for Lum, the rapid improvement of streaming audio quality has brightened the already blinding future of digital music distribution.
“I’m glad now, finally, that broadband is coming, so we can pump more bandwidth to people. But even now, the technology of encoding audio for the Internet has vastly improved over, say, two years ago. I think you’re going to see a lot this year with audio, like RadioSpy is a great example of how the Internet is finally ready for audio — or audio is ready for the Internet. So now’s the time.”
Perhaps due to the Internet’s ever-increasing reach, LSD’s Web presence enables them not only to stay in touch with their fans (“You don’t have to print up a dumb newsletter or anything like that. You just put it up on the Web. It’s right there; you can give them way more than you ever could in a newsletter,” Lum explains) but has also helped them cement a fan base around the globe.
This solid support has, in turn, given the band a way to convincingly make their case for stylistic freedom. Fan enthusiasm for the group’s work, past and present, made Projekt Records demonstrably more willing to trust Lum’s artistic inclinations.
“I guess, as we proved with Flux, even though we made an album that’s so different from anything else on the label, people didn’t complain. [Rosenthal] thought that people were going to say that Projekt [a label that typically markets itself to the goth and industrial community] or someone sold out, and none of that came out. So I guess he thought it was cool. He got a little paranoid at first, but mellowed out.”
Mellow seems to suit Lum just fine. While he has recently embraced the sometimes frenetic style of drum ‘n’ bass, electronica’s most energetic and quickly mutating subgenre, he strives to maintain the thoroughly gentle and vibrantly warm ambience that made Love Spirals Downwards darlings of the dark electronic underground.
“Most drum ‘n’ bass I don’t like, actually,” he explains. “A lot of it sounds like crazy machines gone nuts, and I’m into the more smooth atmospheric and jazzy drum ‘n’ bass. So yeah, it fits in perfectly with my sound. It’s rare that you see a whole genre of music that’s dedicated to atmosphere. And when I found that years back, it was like, ‘Yes! Right on! I can do this.'”
The transition from shoegazer goth-pop to drum ‘n’ bass unfolds more smoothly before the ear than the eye, a point that Temporal illustrates brilliantly. While technically a “greatest hits” album, Temporal takes on the not-so-obvious task of charting the band’s shift in sound. When heard one after another, LSD’s early, more ambient songs almost beg for the band’s current embrace of intelligent dance music.
“The only thing that’s different with my music is some of the sounds and maybe a little bit of the style,” he agrees. “But the vibe is still the same, meaning that it still comes from the same place. It’s still atmospheric music; it’s just done a little differently. Some [musicians], I think, consciously try to shock people and make a whole new kind of album. I’m not that radical. It’s still the same ‘pretty’ music.”
This interview originally appeared along with an audio stream of the conversation on RadioSpy.com. The RadioSpy site went offline years ago, but the text interview is archived on Flinn’s own site at Choler.com. This was the very first interview Anji appeared in.