Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The dream world of Loch Lomond lead singer Ritchie Young is eerie and made up of countless elements that could give anyone the cold sweats, make them bolt out of a restless sleep and not get back to bed for the rest of the night - the longest and most agonizing aspect of the circumstance being the attempts at interpretation. One would turn to their right or left just to make sure that their loved one is sleeping sounding, safe in the bed next to them, and if they have young children, they'd rush to their bedrooms to do the same, leaning down to them to kiss them on the cool forehead and tuck them in tighter. It's a land filled not just with somewhat frightening imagery, but mostly with these predatory impulses and clouds, just stalking like a wolf, like a plague wearing a black cape and never showing its face. It all feels as if it's closing in on us - on him personally, but on us in association, as an unwilling accomplice. It seems as if it's a force that knows your very specific and personalized fears - the ones that get shuffled off in the mind as we age, maturing and hiding, just always there out of the light, an off-colored stain on the soul's carpeting - never fully forgotten. These are inspiring oddities that are warped, but literally not all that far-fetched. In this suite of songs, the Portland-based band follows Young's literate lead, adding other eerie layers of music - steeped in the kinds of uncharacteristic rock and roll instruments that The Decemberists started to bring back to vogue a few years ago and are now littering the landscape of songwriters all over the place. They paint a landscape of tans, browns, oranges, blacks, pinks, yellows and all of the shadowy hues that could be enhanced by a lamplight and a shivering skin. It's also a landscape of blues and purples of squeamish realities working some of their spellbinding resonance into a place that avoids interruptions and just gets to play from reel to reel as a person is asleep and just watching. Young, in the instance of the song, "Ghost of an Earthworm," from the band's latest extended player, "Night Bats," has the songwriter relaying a dream about being a giant earthworm trekking across India, after swallowing the skeleton of a human, thereby giving it the power to walk. It's an outsider's fantastically considered adaptation from awake man to worm in repose, with the implied worries and wants now given to this mythical creature who sets out to find others like it - other earthworms who have also swallowed human skeletons and are similarly bound for the mobile life of a slimy pedestrian, similarities that he's finding are hard to come by there in India, as they would be anywhere, dream or no dream. A lonesomeness overcomes the dreamed up former crawler and it's a lonesomeness that prowls throughout most of Young's writing, as he takes us into these dream states of his that bear the fingerprints of someone who's trying to escape not just from one thing in particular, but from most everything. They are pained dreams of self-discovery and confused stations in life - what those who occupy the waking thoughts do and how they're perceived, loved and measured. It all plays a huge part in the dramatic spells that Loch Lomond cast, adding and diminishing the sonic, moody pressure so that nothing ever bursts, just flutters and stares.
Loch Lomond Official Site