Lykanthea – Migration
I first came across Chicago-based musician Lykanthea’s aka Lakshmi Ramgopal’s music when she collaborated with fellow native dreampop outfit Savage Sister for their EP sundrowned. At the time it was musically by far one of the best records I had reviewed on WordKrapht this year, and still remains one of the top. (Read the review on here).
So quite naturally I was eager to listen to Ramgopal’s solo debut EP Migration that released on July 29th earlier this year. And it was sure well worth all the excitement! I got in touch with her when I was given the opportunity to review the album and she was more than gracious with her responses. Migration magnanimously has an earthy, rustic soundscape. It is akin to the mind drifting to a beautiful and relaxed space – like in a spa but only better.
“Aphonia”, her first single released from the compilation, is a dreamy concoction of glassy vocals and emphatic echoes. It paves way for a musically superior debut album comprised of five finely orchestrated and emoted tunes. A large portion of the EP was written on the remote Greek islands of Delos and Mycenae. She says the inspiration clearly filtered into the music. “Some of that happened because I was in a dreamy headspace while writing, but some of it is due to concrete creative choices.”
The final version of “Telos”, the opening track of the album, has various sounds and noises picked up by her mic while recording the demo. “The waves you hear are from a field recording from the island.”
The collection is also headlined by her collaboration with Laura Prieto-Velasco of Chicago-based line Hunter Gatherer. “I met Laura a year ago when I discovered her work on Instagram and reached out to her about loaning pieces from her line, Hunter Gatherer Jewelry, for a photo shoot I was putting together. That collaboration kicked off the most creatively fruitful relationship I’ve (ever) had the honor to experience.”
Each copy of the EP was wrapped by Hunter Gatherer with one of her handmade Dhiri Rings in Ash, a custom finished inspired by Migration. She continues, “Our approaches to our work – in my case, songwriting, in hers, metalsmithing – have a lot in common. We’re both interested in the themes of creation and destruction and the idea that darkness can be illuminating. Putting together a cassette and one of her pieces made sense, since we’ve influenced each other’s work deeply by challenging each other to think about the intersections between music and object.” Ramgopal also mentioned the release, this fall, of a capsule collection of Hunter Gatherer pieces stamped with lyrics from Migration.
On the record, as with her previous work in sundrowned, the words are heavily textured within the different layers of music. So much so that most times I have to read the lyrics to actually understand what is being sung. When I ask her whether this was done on purpose to add to the composition she explains that lyrics always play a vital role in expressing the ideas she wants to share. “However, the way they are articulated in a song needs to add to the overall atmosphere I’m trying to create, and that can’t be done without manipulating the sound of my voice, either digitally or by recording in spaces that naturally produce echo and reverb.”
On her social media websites, Migration is described as the first in a series of releases inspired by the 4,000-year-old Sumerian tale of the goddess Inanna. Over the course of five songs, it shares the range of personal revelations and challenges Inanna faces during a transformative journey to and back from the underworld.
Well, I am clearly an ardent admirer and listener of her music. And looking at the rave reviews Migration is receiving, there is hardly any doubt that this Carnatic music- trained PhD student is only getting started.
WORDKRAPHT Rating: 5 Stars!
Date released: July, 2014
Location: IL, Chicago
Genre: ambient electronica