Baby Labyrinthian by Lucid (Review)

What Lucid is able to do in the 75 minutes of this CD is create some of most interesting experimental ambience I’ve ever heard.
Baby Labyrinthian - Lucid

Although I’ve known about this album for a long time, it’s only been recently that I was able to acquire it. And I’ve found this to be one of the more compelling releases that I’ve recently purchased. What Lucid is able to do in the 75 minutes of this CD is create some of most interesting experimental ambience I’ve ever heard. Distant radio transmissions combine with the creakings and groanings of old ships, spacey strings and bells compete with baby-like voices, and ghostly rhythms provide an undercurrent for a very spooky, yet comforting collection of songs.

Of everything I own, I could most easily compare this to His Name Is Alive’s Home Is in Your Head. However, Lucid completely latches onto the experimental side of His Name Is Alive’s interesting blend of experimental noise and pop music. At times, I hear Lovesliescrushing at their mellowest and most distant times, or Flying Saucer Attacks less noisy meanderings. However, Lucid really has a sound all their own, and they use everything, including the kitchen sink and the dirty dishes inside, for their compositions.

There’s a minimalist ethic here, but one that’s woven together so deftly that it’s hardly noticeable. In other words, a lot happens within the music here, but it’s so quiet and understated that if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss it. It’s not uncommon to hear samples of songbirds and what sounds like pedestrians and passing traffic mixed in with soft acoustic guitars, electronics, and sparse drumbeats. There are so many sounds present on this recording, and many that I can’t even begin to identify. And everything is covered in echo and reverb and other effects to give it a very distant, intangible, and spectral sense.

Above it all glides the voices. Two female vocalists are credited, Rebecca Bird and Melody Rockwell. Their vocals are delivered in soft, haunting whispers that are echoed and fuzzed out until they sound like distant A.M. radio transmissions coming in at 2:30 in the morning. Or maybe like the ghosts in your house trying to communicate with you through an ancient victrola. The effect is often quite unsettling, like on “Doomedah,” where the vocalist softly repeats that word over songbirds and distant churchbells. But I don’t find it displeasing at all. In fact, it also sounds quite comforting.

This album hints at the point where you lie between sleeping and waking, where you can just start to sense the real world, but where you’re still aware of the subconscious goings-on of your mind. Lucid’s music doesn’t seem to paint any pictures of the real world, but rather pictures of that world while your still half-asleep and of your dreams as they slowly fade away in the minutes after waking up. Song titles like “Of The Miniscule Incubus,” “Mine On I And Mirror The Of Side Your On You,” “Bend And Wither Like A Flame,” and “Entrust Not In The Illusory” just add to this flavor.

At 31 tracks and almost 75 minutes of material, there’s bound to be some less than stellar material that bogs one down, but the interest I had in this album far outweighs any downside. With each track clocking in under 4 minutes, the album seems composed of fragments, mere pieces of songs, often too short for you to latch onto. Sometimes the songs cut short too suddenly, it seems. Other times, they seem to drag on forever. If you don’t like experimental music or music that shuns your regular pop music mindsets, stay faraway from this album. Baby Labyrinthian is an incredible example of using environmental recordings, traditional instruments, electronics, and the human voice to create illusory and dreamy recordings. This is an album that I expect I’ll be scrutinizing for some time to come.

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