reviewed by Michael Thomas
If a body of water were to record an album, what would it sound like? There’s a million different ways to go about approaching this, but the next closest thing might be Lakes & Other Bodies by Moss Harvest. Now, this is not a typical album in any sense. It’s intended, as Moss Harvest writes on Bandcamp, to be “an informal/living archive”; this collection features a number of different recordings spread out over the years. Even more interesting is that “sounds will be added and removed as time passes.” So what I’m writing about right now might not be your experience in a few months.
Regardless of how much Lakes & Other Bodies changes, I think the final experience will still be the same. Each piece of this archive feels like a living thing, or at the very least a recreation of real life. It’s a wonder that tape loop can create such vivid entries, recordings that make you feel like you’re at the bottom of a lake or staring out at the ocean on a grey, windy day.
It also helps that there’s barely any words here. There’s a wave of synths here and there, the sound of rain falling, numerous indescribably dark sounds and more. Only one song has actual words, and even then the effect is fairly calming. Towards the end is “resonate,” which features garbled samples of one (or two?) men talking, with the phrase “they resonate” repeating throughout.
Otherwise, Lakes & Other Bodies is like going through a complicated cycle of dreams and nightmares. There’s something eerie about the clanging bell sounds in “citadel,” and it’s even more frightening as the sounds degrade more and more as the recording goes on. The sounds of “glass magnolia” make you feel like you’re sinking deeper and deeper into a dark sea. “with open palms” is more neutral territory; it sounds like the sea on a dense, foggy day. There’s so much intentional degradation of sound and natural-sounding shifts that “paying all my tithes” sounds utterly optimistic. It’s devotional music filtered through chaos, released into the world like a limping angel.
Interestingly, there is one instance where Lakes & Our Bodies briefly ventures into pop music. “hold me tight” takes a particular part of the melody of Clean Bandit’s “symphony” and loops it with a few seconds of delay, along with the sound of rain in the background. It feels incredibly calming and strangely emotional for those particular notes to be separated completely from their context.
Perhaps Lakes & Other Bodies is a metaphorical ocean; it draws from different sources but ultimately makes a cohesive whole. The ocean will change over the years, as, presumably, will this.
Top Tracks: Just listen to the whole thing
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)