For their first album, Seth Troxler and Phil Moffa joined forces and became multidimensional creative dissidents Lost Souls Of Saturn. This time, even further into the vortex, they’ve metamorphosed into sci-fi AR comic characters John and Frank who’ve explored the galaxy and returned with this perception-melting new LP.
Although ‘Reality’ still possesses the wigged-out conceptual brilliance which garnered installations and performances at Saatchi Gallery (London), Fondation Beyeler (Basel), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, plus live sets at Field Day, Glastonbury and Kappa Futur, as its title might suggest, there’s vividness amidst the mind-bending. Where its predecessor was a murky exploration of weird and dark cerebral passageways, this album – though still fathoms deep – has a dazzling clarity of sound, as if listeners are beginning to crack the arcane codes, and reach for enlightenment.
“It’s not commercializing, but maybe just reaching out a little more. We’ve done this as art, we’ve got to this point where really far-out people and museum creators and a few other people get it, but now we want to show everyone”, comments Moffa.
A prime example of these newfound beams of light guiding participants through the maze is the chugging cosmic techno synth pop of ‘Mirage’, featuring the voice of Adam Ohr. Also guesting on the album is Lvv Gvn, whose honeyed Billie-Holiday-meets-Rickie-Lee-Jones tones adorn the tranquil pixelated broken beat of ‘Click’. Greg Paulus plays trumpet on ‘Zorg Arrival’ and ‘Scram City’, whilst Protomartyr’s vocalist Joe Casey and guitarist Greg Ahee grace the liminal drifting celestial plane of ‘Lilac Chasers’. Sitarist Rishab Sharma, the last disciple of guru Ravi Shankar, shreds on ‘Scram City’.
Elsewhere, across the LP’s immensely inventive instrumental passages techno, dub, house, jazz, psych and ambient are vapourised into an expansive yet pleasingly concise series of morphing dream states. Fans of Air Liquide, Ravi Shankar, Ray Manzarek, Carl Craig, Pole, The Orb and ‘Son Of A Lung’ era FSOL should find much to like.
With further like-minded conspirators, LSOS coalesce to combine music, art, new technologies and storytelling into an inextricably linked whole. Their latest congregation within an audio-visual environment happens this February, at the public art platform W1 Curates. It promises to be the most complete immersion into the worlds they’ve created to date. The full programme will be announced soon.
LSOS are spurred by the fringe and the underground, from Philip K Dick’s science fiction, the history-mining of Adam Curtis, Vassily Kandinsky’s colour theory, the cosmic technological imagery of Detroit techno, the KLF’s conceptualist rave culture performance art, and non-malevolent old school conspiracy culture.
Incorporating the above and a whole lot besides, the more they chased rabbits down philosophical holes, the more strange coincidences started happening to them, and the more they decided to use this method for their working process, where productions were allowed to unfold according to their own logic – or lack thereof.
As they followed happenstance, things started to get weirder. “Phil’s studio in New York,” says Seth, “was a special place. Chaka Kahn had recorded ‘I Feel for You’ there. We started to feel in our minds that it was this weird conduit, this special music portal that we were tapping into.” “We had a lot of signs,” adds Phil; “synchronicities, mind melding, and out of body experiences, and things would line up.” “All the time!” continues Seth. “We’d record for ages, listen back and go ‘What? I don’t remember doing that, how did that happen?’ Things worked that shouldn’t. Almost like working in a trance.”
“And that,” Seth continues, “is where John and Frank came in. We started to think we were becoming portals ourselves, and we found names up for these guys. We live our lives separately as Phil and Seth, but when we’re together, we become the avatars for these two reality hackers called John and Frank, and things just happen.”
‘Reality’ will be accompanied by a cutting-edge augmented reality graphic novel, which tells the origin story of John and Frank. Created in collaboration with graphic novel artist and AR pioneer Rob Shields, it’s a genuinely new type of total artwork, with comic illustration, origin story, augmented reality and musical soundtrack working together to create a type of synesthesia. Every spread, page and panel, when viewed through a tablet screen or AR headset / glasses, comes to life in animated 3D. Moreover the LSOS soundtrack is synched perfectly, with the music fully integrated, looping and layering as the reader follows the panels of the comic itself. A soundtrack that evolves as the graphic novel is read is the first of its kind. This is music, animation and illustration in sync like never before.
The comic continues Lost Souls Of Saturn’s previous experiments in the augmented reality sphere – their AR billboards in London and Ibiza, their exploratory work in the field of 3D printing and AR markers, and their creation of Mixmag magazine’s first AR triggered front cover.
Tracklist (continuous version):
00:00 Zorg Arrival
04:07 Scram City
15:08 This Foo
19:35 Click ft. Lvv Gvn
24:20 Metro Cafe
30:50 Mirage ft. Adam Ohr
37:22 Lilac Chaser ft. Protomartyr
Lost Souls Of Saturn live at Fabric on February 3rd
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