LAKE are an experimental-pop ensemble centered around the songwriting partnership of wife/husband duo Ashley Eriksson and Elijah Moore. The two met and formed LAKE in the progressive Cascadian college town of Olympia, Washington, in 2005. Since Eriksson and Moore decamped from Olympia to the woods of Whidbey Island some years ago, they have only burrowed deeper into this lifestyle, concentrating on their songwriting and art, enabled in part by musical contributions for Adventure Time (Cartoon Network).
More than ten years on, LAKE have made “Forever or Never”, their eighth album, which bookends the first decade of the group’s take on the 1970s rock and pop idiom. “Forever or Never” is a collection of humanistic songs that explore the complications of moral and spiritual being in a hostile world. Musically, LAKE are, as always, unparalleled in re-imagining and renewing the melodic language of 1970s soft-rock, (think Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, The Roches, Laura Nyro, etc), implementing jazz-chord voicings, memorable hooks and a wide palette of colorful, inventive instrumentation.
LAKE’s musical kindling is unusual for a band whose genesis was rooted in the punk and indie community – before signing to legendary K Records (for their 2nd album Oh,The Places We’ll Go, 2008) Calvin Johnson apparently couldn’t believe a band from the Olympia underground would be so keen on reinterpreting the music of mainstream pop acts from a bygone era. LAKE has since converted him, and many more, to a re-sensitized appreciation of big musical ideas, which are non-cynical, joyous, inviting. LAKE are, and have been from the beginning, expert studio alchemists and inventive arrangers, often with specialized help from band member Andrew Dorsett’s experience as a jazz musician. Embracing the twin universes of digital and analogue means, LAKE’s music becomes a radiant creation, blending percussiveness and tonality, synthesized sounds and acoustic frequencies. They make music glow in the same light as their predecessors, like the collaborations of Eno and Byrne, or Joni Mitchell’s exploratory middle-70s work.
Several of Eriksson’s songs from “Forever or Never” were conceived during her residency at the Hedgebrook Women Writers Retreat on Whidbey Island: “We Can Work It Out”, “Trouble”, and “Magazine”. The three songs expand Eriksson’s predilection for narrative songwriting and unpretentious storytelling, drawing from local events, (such as the tragic loss described in “Trouble”), as well as the burdens of winners, (“We Can Work It Out”). Elijah Moore on the other hand focuses less on narrative events than Eriksson, often meditating on the confining nature of culture and religion, as in title track “Forever or Never”, or addressing philosophical questions that present no easy answers, such as the moral precepts of “Give Back”.
The contributors to “Forever or Never” are many. The album was recorded with music engineer Nicholas Wilbur (Hungry Cloud Darkening) at his church-turned-studio dubbed ‘The Unknown’, which he shares with Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie / The Microphones), also a contributor, (Elverum added squalling guitar on “Gone Against the Wind”). Paul Benson (Hungry Cloud Darkening / Ever Ending Kicks) acted as a fifth member of the LAKE, playing on most of the basic tracks. Karl Blau, who recorded and released LAKE’s first album on his Kelp! Monthly label in 2006, played sax on “Over and Under”. The late artist and musician Geneviève Castrée, which the album is dedicated to being that it was completed after her death, contributed backing vocals to “Magazine” and “Gone Against the Wind”. After a decade, LAKE has become a platform to explore good and generous living. “Forever or Never” is the music of this kind of commitment, and as the latest chapter in a lifelong project, it looks both backward and forward with hope.
Lake + Rachel Glassberg & The Disasters LIVE
Sunday, 3rd September 2017 | doors 20:00 CET
Marie Antoinette | Holzmarktstr. 15-18 | 10179 Berlin