Whether consciously evoking the idea of ancient structures or not, I feel like long-established psychonauts log(m) and Laraaji would not take issue with this associated interpretation of ‘Sunken Forest’. Tendrils of Laraaji’s reverberated laughing and coo’ing wind around the solid foundation of complex, intersecting basslines and shimmering synth embellishments log(m) have erected in honour of their deity (ecstatic meditation on repetitive motifs).
The subterranean locale inhabited by log(m) and Laraaji is not necessarily easily accessible for the uninitiated. The dedicated traveller is justly rewarded with radiating waves of serene melody and warmth upon their arrival, even if they are only allowed to bask in it’s glow for a brief (4:20 minute) spell.
log(m) call on the services of a new age pathfinder, joining the likes of K. Leimer, Daniele Baldelli, Luv*Jam and Eva Geist to celebrate a landmark 20 releases from Invisible, Inc. With the 16-track compilation dropping later this month, they also answered a few questions about the collaboration.
You first collaborated with Laraaji on the track ‘Daisy Dub’ in 2013 for the Interchill compilation, Depth Charge. How did this come about? How different has the process been working together this time around?
In fact, the REAL story is we met Laraaji through mutual friends back in 2006. Laraaji had come to Toronto touring his laughter meditations and gong workshops. We all connected over a fine vegan dinner, and remarkably he agreed to stop by our studio for a jam session in spring 2007. We spread out an orange blanket for him to sit on and captured a few hours of ideas and sounds. He improvised over our rhythms while we processed his signal, which influenced what he played. Our initial idea was just to get a few good samples to work into a track, but the more we played back the recordings the more we kept finding new ways to use the material, and we soon realized we had enough ideas that could become an album (and it just kept growing).
In autumn 2008 we had another opportunity to get together with Laraaji to lay down some overdubs and some new takes. Then it was up to us to edit and tweak and layer and sculpt this mass of stuff into finished pieces. However, we both had some non-musical upheavals in our lives and the project lay dormant for several years. We both knew something had to come out of it all, so we’ve been slowly chipping away at it, sending updates to Laraaji as we did them. He’s been remarkably patient and understanding over the whole time, saying things like “It will be time when it’s Time.” But the truth is we’ve been kind of selfish with this stuff, mostly keeping it to ourselves, other than the track with Interchill and a couple teasers on our Soundcloud page. We enjoy our music more before it’s been released but we agree we’ve been hanging on to these recordings a bit too long this time.
You have been making music together as a duo for decades, both as Legion Of Green Men and as the more recent shortened nom de plume. How does it feel to bring someone else into the fold? Have you opened yourselves to collaboration many other times?
Regarding the name change to “log(m)”… it was time – the name had to evolve. It’s like the axe: you replace the handle, then replace the blade, but it occupies the same space. Is it the same axe? We’ve grown artistically so it seems right the name should reflect that. Besides, logarithms are cool.
log(m) did a few collaborations with some guys in the local Canadian techno scene in the mid ’90s. And we’ve done tracks here and there with vocalists and some great players (violin, cello, flute, drummers etc). Most of the time we’ve already had some bed material for the others to work around, but with Laraaji we let things evolve on the spot. The biggest difference with getting to record with him is that he has such a defined sound. Laraaji doesn’t “play” his instruments, its much more like he “flows” though them!
Some incredible stuff was missed while we were setting up effect chains or switching microphones during the first session. We learned by the second time around to make sure the tape was always rolling and it expanded our sound palette to include everything that went on in the room – finger noise, mic bumps, cables getting unplugged, all the fom toolery… so there were a lot of tiny fragments to play with. This is likely the most ‘organic’ sounding stuff we’ve ever done – even though in reality there are hundreds of edits and digital trickery going on everywhere.
What Laraaji does is so different from what we do, that the results are truly a hybrid that sounds like neither of us.
Has the process been entirely via correspondence or have you spent time occupying the same physical space? How do you think this approach has influenced the outcome of what you have produced together?
See answer #1. It was amazing to have Laraaji in our room, flowing on his zither RIGHT IN FRONT OF US! We’ve been following his recordings since the ’80s and never thought we’d meet him much less record him! It was eye opening for sure and it made us question our own approach to making music. We tweak, and fuss, and fiddle, whereas he just happens, and we had to learn to roll with it. We like to say, Laraaji seeded the sound field, and log(m) watered and weeded.
There has been some file swapping between Lex and Rew, because we live over 300km apart, but in the last few years we made a greater effort to catch up in person. Sometimes you really have to be in the same room to push an idea around, maybe taking things too far and then backing it off to find where it sits best. Working long distance extends the feedback loop and it takes longer to realign when we veer off course.
Laraaji is known for his belief of laughter as a therapeutic tool. How much does humour figure into how you generally approach your music?
Without a doubt, Laraaji just beams joy and warmth. He radiates positivity and you can feel it when you’re in his presence. It’s amazing. You can hear him laughing in our track on the comp. We’ve been accused of being too “bookish” because of our song titles, but c’mon, Legion Of Green Men? That’s fuckin’ silly. So much of what we do is tongue firmly in cheek. Our first single from ‘92 was full of graphic jokes and ridiculous track names. And even the lock loops were the result of a joke – “deez here kids an’ their laser techno music, it’s so dull they might as well be listening to a skipped record” [insert lightbulb sound here]. Hey, we could DO that! We were essentially making a parody of a certain aspect of ’90s techno at our start.
What have been some of the formative texts, images and experiences that have influenced how you approach what you create?
Excellent question – it doesn’t involve music! Formative texts? That would be user manuals! There is strong link between visuals and music for us. A painting or a sculpture can have a synergistic relationship with sounds. We both like Op Art, Abstract, Dadism, Psychedelic, Surrealism, Art Brute, Visionary, and Geometric art. Perhaps surrounding ourselves with that kind of stuff rubs off, as is probably self evident from our early album art.
As for experiences, it’s hard to effectively convey the feeling of floating in a canoe on a still lake staring at the stars. We’re still trying to recreate that stuff the mind’s ear hears when you’re trying to fall asleep after a night of the crazy bones. There’s still so much to do!
Do you see yourselves operating in a tradition of new age or ‘electronic’ music or do you view log(m) as something else? Was Laraaji an influence within this sphere if so?
We often feel like we don’t quite fit in anywhere. Legion Of Green Men was somehow just off the mark enough that our stuff always sounds obtuse in a DJ mix. With log(m) we hope we’ve matured to a place where we don’t care if we fit in. Perhaps, there is a continuum between new age and electronic music and its possible to be a bit of both, yet neither. We draw from a vast pool of influences and hybridise elements from everywhere. Umbrella terms like “electronic” are safe but don’t actually say anything. How about Polymorphic Gronktronica?
We’d been using an autoharp in recordings since before log(m) but there’s a good chance we picked up some ideas from Laraaji’s open tuned shimmering sounds that have been a part of us ever since. Maybe he felt that enough to agree to record with us. He evokes texture over melody, and a calming serenity that makes his recordings so useful for so many applications beyond “background ambience.” We could certainly cite him as an inspiration, so to come full circle and actually create something together with him is pretty fucking cosmic.
Lost Transmissions From The Off-World Territories is out August 14th on Invisible Inc. – pre-order direct from the label.