AKA Lo Peninsula by Lo! Peninsula (Album Review)

Updated: Jun 22



Artist: Lo! Peninsula

Length: 33 mins 4 secs

Genre: Shoegaze/Dreampop

Release date: 18 August, 2018


When I first listened to, curtly stating (assuming that this song is a staple to almost every keen music listeners, patrons, musicians, and posers alike), Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, I was stunned like everyone else, but about something peculiar in it - the beginning seconds, where a radio is being tuned to seague into the guitar intro. I don't know if people consider this as a legitimate element, and from my experience, people often tend to leave this portion while talking about the song.


This elegant work of art, as I consider it, made me fantasize about songs that begin with a radio static, a phone call, or something mundane, like the sound of rain on a tin roof, perhaps. Fortunately, this remains as my fantasy no more ever since Lo! Peninsula, Manipur's own shoegaze trio, released their debut album AKA Lo! Peninsula, in the form of colorful CD's and merchandise; their songs are way cooler than the shirts though.


The most astounding feature of the songs, besides the elegant cover art, is their respective intros. None of the tracks in the album begin with direct instrumentations. This is something authentically deliberate and thus, calls for blatant interpretations along the songs seagued afterwards.


Intro of Another Divine Joke: A cacophony of footsteps towards the buzz of an answering machine along with a ringing telephone, maybe from an otherworldly force to warn about a divine joke.


This track carries the vibe of a fuzzy dreampop song but with trance elements. The nature of this song can be depicted as a bunch of feeble creepers growing around a formidable wall of bass; and each of them possessing strong colors. The reverb-drenched bass is the hook of this song. The ‘deliberately’ repressed vocal (which some listeners unfortunately take it as a recording anomaly) sounds like the echo of a long distant memory stuck in our heads. This song embarks the very attribute of the album that can delve into our listening points from a cognitive manner.


In common terms, these songs will often project images and memories to the listeners' psyche. Diving further into the song, a 'minor scale' guitar lick elevates it to an extent that can make a listener feel guilty while having an existential crisis. The accompanying official music video for this song captures the visual ideal to sum up the essence of nostalgia, through the depiction of scenic landscapes and seashores. The fast-paced video is shot and directed by Lourembam Disney as his debut experience in the craft and like an “Orson Welles-phenomena”, he nailed it with his spectacular feat.


Intro of Sleight of Hand: Sound of a “hand ripple” table shuffling of playing cards, indicating a literal projection of the song title as something cooking up the sleeve.


If this song is played through low quality loud speakers, there is a high chance that a listener in a considerable distance might mistake it for a song by The Black Keys from their El Camino period. The vocal of this song is made to sound like its being shouted from a hill in an extraterrestrial environment, like the one shown in the cover art. The tremolo picking in the middle is a treat for the ears, and is the element that marks the originality of Lo! Peninsula.


If this part was missing, then this track would have been The Black Keys sound-alike. The minimal lyrics of Sleight of Hand can be interpreted as an unsatisfied love letter to the layers of authorities in the present society, attacking nicely to the lies and hypocrisies. The crescendo in the later part of the song creates an upheaval of the generated emotions. The bluesy groove built by the intro guitar is the skeleton equation of the song to which the contemplating vocals and the suspenseful guitar lick balanced perfectly.


Intro of Flashback Kid: An atmospheric feedback of different wash of sound with the guitar sounding like chimes of an advancing ghost train.


This intro is reminiscent of the iconic opening of the song I Wanna Be Adored by britpop grandads The Stone Roses. The bass is spacious and judicious, unlike the previous tracks. Dissection of this song into its individual components will only lessen its euphonium. It will be a privilege to still adhere to its auditory illusion. Flashback Kid is really bittersweet and uplifting at the same time.


Imagine yourself as a weary traveller resting on the foothills of the Alps, and from amongst the fog you suddenly hear a pan-flute played by a Norse God to make you remember your good old days and at the same time motivating you to go back and ask the name of the beautiful highland girl you met on the way; maybe this is what this song can make you feel.


It is also comparable to the instrumental tracks of the post-rock giants Explosions In The Sky. The trademark tremolo picking also cues in to this one, too. This time, it is more fitting and does justice to the chiming guitars. In my opinion, this is the best song in the album as it defines the true attribute and originality of Lo! Peninsula, as far as their sound is concerned.


Intro of Quicksand (Nuffin): A static, sounding like the advancing wave of a dying star (Is this what "making constellations cry" meant? Maybe.), and resembles the sound of a swallowing quicksand.


The vocal delivery in this song is awesome like Jack White's, but syllables are stretched like Liam Gallagher's (yes, the more angry brother). The instrumentation is bleaker and harsher than the precedent songs. Strangely, it has a grunge-revival sound despite being a shoegaze composition. Lyrically, Quicksand is the most existentialist song in the album. Lo! Peninsula mentioned having an existential crisis in their description, and if we are ought to brand them as existentialists, then their philosophy is probably that of Kierkegaard's- mild but profound.

Being "half awake and drowning in quicksand", laments the very fact of our mundane lives being unable to decide our fates according to free will. A demo version of this song was uploaded on SoundCloud many months before its release. Further, the most amazing thing about this song is the outro which eventually serves as the intro for the next one in the tracklist- which is a characteristic of the concept albums in progressive rock.


Intro of Evil Favours: The white-noise sound of rainfall on a tin roof, maybe to help someone muse for his past over a cup of coffee.


When I ask many of the listeners about their favorite track in the album, Evil Favours is the most common answer. The song itself talks about finding passion and nostalgia in the current scheme of things. The drums are really significant and pleasant in this track. Relatively, the vocal is presented with clarity and less fuzzy. The lengthy instrumentals in the ending is its specialty. The opening guitar riff makes it initially to sound like a traditional britpop composition - simple yet tasteful. This song gives out opaque emotions to the listeners, giving them a chance to make up on their own. Evil Favours embodies the poignancy in lyricism of Lo! Peninsula.


Intro of Final Roar: A music tape playing a garage jam, is changed to play the song itself, representing a change of a higher order.


The last song is pretty much self-explanatory. It is a genius move to make it sound powerful. The guitar part is amazingly made to resemble the roar of a steam engine. The credit of this finesse mixing and mastering of goes to Sudip Kong, who also did his trick in the band's debut single Chasing Tidal Waves. Strong synth-dreampop influences are found in Final Roar, despite the fact that the band do not use synthesizers. Their trademark Jazzmaster and its team of effects and pedals must be really capable then.

The cover art of the album was designed by Seonath Wakrambam and Naresh Meetei. It depicts a collage of surrealist entities - an extraterrestrial hill range (signifying the space rock fashion) in front of a poncho wearing body with the head as a moon bearing an opening third eye (symbolizing enlightenment), on the other side, there are three floating cosmic turtles (representing spirituality). The flamingos on the moon also symbolizes confidence. These elements help in building up a quasi-cinematic perspective for the album.


In shoegaze, a guitar is made not to sound like one, so there is no further need to disintegrate it and destroy the illusion. At this point, it confuses me to face a moral question: if a shoegaze song should be dissected or just be interpreted. I'd prefer the later.


Anyway, you need to grab a CD and give it a listen in order to relate to the interpretations. These are artistic creations which add values to our lives even when we know that we are all chained to a thundering cloud of deceit. Well, aren’t we all?


Personnel:

Nitin Shamurailatpam - vocals, guitar

Avinash Thokchom - bass guitar

Jyotin Elangbam - drums


References: Click Here

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