Looking back on Remanence - Lamkhyer

Posted April 4, 2015

Rather than let one of our favorite works vanish into obscurity, John and I worked on this project on and off (kind of in secret) over the last couple of years. Lamkhyer was initially released in 2002 as a 3" CD containing the songs "Lamkhyer", "K'an (The Abyss)", and "The Leftward Path". The 3" CD or Mini CD single served as a digital analog to the 45 vinyl single and could hold approximately 24 minutes of music. Part of the appeal of releasing material for this medium for us were the obvious limitations it imposed.

We were becoming more self aware at the time - realizing that we shifted direction frequently, often times scrapping fruitful ideas to pursue new interests. Sadly, an album's worth of promising material was abandoned over the course of a number of writing sessions as we searched for a common thread that would eventually become our next album "a Strange Constellation of Events". But, Lamkhyer was one of those rare exceptions where we purposefully focused on a shorter writing cycle and wrote with the intent of completing an EP that could fit on a CD3.

For Lamkhyer, we relied heavily on randomness and chance to make compositional decisions. On K'an, we assigned numbers on a 12 sided die to chord intervals and spacing and took turns rolling to decide which chord came next and where to place it. We could voice the chord any way we wanted, as long as we followed the suggestion of the dice as closely as possible. We also took a trip to Kellogg Forest early one morning and recorded the bird sounds mixed on the track. A number of details were difficult for us to find resolution on. We recorded two primary mixes, one with bells an octave higher (K'an, The Abyss) and one lower (K'an, the Deep). We also completed the mixes in different ways - "K'an, the Abyss" was tight and focused while "K'an, the Deep" was more experimental, slightly noisier and more dynamic. On the remastered edition we've included both versions.

Other aspects I remember from those sessions - we were just starting to get more heavily into hand played percussion and wanted to push the envelope with electronic and hand played loops. Both feature heavily on the the tracks "Lamkhyer" and "Leftward Path" (quite honestly, these are still two of my favorite tracks in the tribal / ambient genre). For Lamkhyer we recorded a demo without drums (a historical document in our catalog included on the remastered edition) but didn't quite recognize its potential. I convinced John that this dark drifting mood piece was calling for a full blown drum track by playing it back alongside Vidna Obmana's "Encountering Terrain". From there the potential was clear. I took the basic structure of the track and built the drums up from hand played samples, loops, rattles and electronics. If you listen closely you'll hear that the drums constantly evolve over the course of the song and never settle on the same pattern twice. I still consider this one of our biggest compositional accomplishments and this is one of the primary reasons.

When John brought a demo of "The Lefthand Path" to one of our recording sessions, the song featured a warm, reassuring chord progression. Focusing on drums again, we pushed it further with live percussion and electronic loops. The icing on the cake came when we recorded bass tones through a 12 foot tube and used them as the repeating low drone notes throughout the song. Again, we recorded two different versions, each with it's own distinct drum loop - only one could fit on the EP. Version two was remixed for inclusion on the remastered edition.

Early versions of tracks for Strange Constellation were also starting to take ship during this time. We've included two important ones here. Reflecting Pool demo occurred as you hear it direct from tape. We were able to perform some audio magic by reducing tape hiss, and improving the EQ, stereo imaging and compression. A long version of Nocturne didn't quite fit Strange Constellation but it sounds completely at home here.

Interestingly, Lamkhyer did well for an EP. It charted on the Billboard instrumental charts and I remember taking special pride in the fact that it charted higher than John Tesh's Christmas album during the month of December 2002. That seems like a long time ago. And the EP has been out of print for far too many years. Sifting through this time period and doing our absolute best to present the core songs along with their outtakes has given us both a sense of closure on an important period in our development. Listening to the remastered edition now as a completed album, we both feel that it stands on its own as one of our strongest works.

Brian McWilliams

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