LowCityRain – Numb and IntoxicatedSunday, 22nd December 2013
Considering Markus Siegenhort’s role as mastermind of German black metal adventurists Lantlôs, the opportunity to delve into his 80’s synth/Goth LowCityRain project proved to be too much to pass up. Even if the band’s debut self-titled album (released by Prophecy Productions this fall) is 100% devoid of metallic elements, its melancholic and dark trappings draw a straight (and pretty obvious) line to the formative Goth swindlers (Dead Can Dance, The Cure, etc.) who influenced the various dark/Gothic metal bands that dominated the 90’s and still stand today. Alas, chalk another one up for open-mindedness…and metal’s big-ass tree branches.
“I used to be quite narrow-minded in the past,” begins Siegenhort from his German locale. “But by aging and experiencing new things and all you will find more and more music interesting. I think that’s a totally normal thing. Also, I work as a producer and musician and I actually work with music almost all day long. So this definitely shaped me in my music habits. I don’t really listen to the genre[black metal], but to the composition and the production as separate things. And also I feel like a lot of composers share like-minded feelings or views. Even if they deal with different kinds of sounds, or topics – you will always find love songs for example, in indie, in metal, in hip-hop, etc. What I’m trying to say is that a jazz piece can be as dark as a black metal piece, you know?”
LowCityRain is certainly flush with dark moments, from the contemplative “Grey View,” deadened “I Don’t Know Myself,” and heart-pounding “Phantom.” Moreover, Siegenhort went out of his way to create a near-direct replication of the 80’s, utilizing every sonic trick he had in his cabal. According to the multi-instrumentalist, it was the Reagan decade or bust.
“There are two major vibes in this album: One part of the album deals with a moodier atmosphere. The songs have a more classic new wave feel to it. This part reminds me of so many classic 80’s stuff, like a foggy street at night, with cars, apartments and all…in an old detective story, with lots of coats, rain and darkness. The lonely guy, the beautiful girl. Fucked-up disco nights, lipsticks, the fatal and drugs. And of course new wave music.
“The other side is more of an electronic, softer thing,” he continues. “It still has 80’s aesthetics, but also has a strong dream pop/shoegazer vibe. It deals with imagery like the beach, the bed, the sun, morning, the soft etc. If you ask me, it definitely has a certain ethereal touch to it. “
One cannot undervalue how authentic LowCityRain sounds, so much so that the casual observer might be of the mind that the album really was made three decades ago. Full credit should go to Siegenhort for his production abilities on this one, and, if one is to mistake the album for it being a product of the 80’s, then Siegenhort would be happy.
“I spent a lot of attention to make it sound like a better production in the 80s,” he relays. “I wanted it to sound a bit more powerful, but still kept it a little muffled and rough on the other hand. So yeah, I’d be happy! That’s what I tried to make it sound like. The best thing would be if someone said ‘Is that from the 80s?’ It sounds weird – like something between the 80s and 90s ethereal. I think it’s from 2012, though.”
“Mood” become one of the prevailing sentiments during our discussion with Siegenhort, and there weren’t too many tunes of 2013 that were moody, obscure, and alluring than the ones we listed above, specifically “I Don’t Know Myself,” which would be first in line to accompany an 80’s movie where its protagonist is drugged out, with flowing curtains, by the beach…empty bottles all over the place.
“Most of the songs I wrote in the summer,” says Sigenhor. “I was getting up early, I got myself high and wrote these songs. I was just playing around with sounds and melodies, hours melted like minutes and all of a sudden I had a song finished. Or some idea for a new song. It felt like a flush, like the songs were evolving themselves and like not by my own hand. In the afternoons I was always out with friends, enjoying summer time, experiencing summer in a pretty ethereal way. This kept everything in balance and inspired me a lot.
“On the other hand I felt somewhat dislocated and weird,” he continues. “I was in a constant bubble, like more being a spectator in life than actually living it. I was so headless and being anywhere but not focusing on things that mattered. It’s kind of strange to talk about it. It’s probably because I was high all the time. Behind a window pane. I guess ‘I Don’t Know Myself’ was written on one of the worse days I had. But I can’t really tell when I wrote it.”
LowCityRain has certainly provided Siegenhorst an outlet for expressions that dance well beyond the black metal realm, but as we wrapped, he was quick to mention that Lantlôs will be his priority in 2014, with plans for a second LowCityRain album not quite ready to materialize.
“I’m working on the new Lantlôs album Melting Sun at the moment,” he finishes. “I want to get this out as soon as possible. I worked over three years on this; it was really a bitch to be produced. But now, it’s the very first time I’m actually really satisfied with every single detail on a Lantlôs album. I really can’t wait to get this out. Super-stoked for what people will say.”