LUMP | Under Radar magazine
LUMP – Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay on their self-titled debut album
A surreal dream landscape
Oct. 17, 2018
Photograph by Matthew Parri and Esteban Diacono
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LUMP’s design involved little discussion: Laura Marling and Tunng frontman Mike Lindsay met at a Neil Young after party, and, after what Lindsay calls a “simple exchange of words,” LUMP was form. Collaboration induces unexpected creative freedom. “We didn’t really know each other very well before we started doing this,” says Lindsay, “so it was a learning curve.–I had no idea what it was going to be.
A hypnotic mix of flutes, drones, synths and guitars, LUMP’s eponymous start shares characteristics with a surreal short film soundtrack of only 32 minutes (with the credits read by Marling to close the album in “LUMP is a Product”). Lindsay describes the writing process as dictated by a set of rules: “Every track had to be pretty much tied to the same key musically, which meant every song could go in and out of the others. The flute has this breathable quality–and I wanted the synths to have the same energy, where they felt alive and pulsating.
He continues: “Laura used different voices for this album and it was wonderful because they became instruments in their own right.–they weave in and out of these organic and electronic textures.
This textured energy assembles the record into a layered composition of characters and voices–and Marling’s lyrics are embedded in that playful fairytale quality, as if they were telling a dream landscape. Full of vivid images and weird vignettes, in “Late to the Flight” Marling orders, “paint dots on your wrist to see me in your dreams”; in “Rolling Thunder,” she sings, “I’m a piece of light stuck in your spine.”
While writing the lyrics for LUMP, Marling was reading André Breton Surrealist manifesto, which details the visions of the surrealist artistic movement of the 1920s. Their practice consisted in tapping into the “higher reality” of the unconscious–something that LUMP draws on a lot. “I like the quality of the movement and the fact that he was trying to make art without any emotion–and inevitably the emotion goes with it, ”says Marling. This surreal playfulness is reflected in the fluffy red character LUMP on the record sleeve and in the album’s music videos. “The lyrics are so loose,” says Marling, “they don’t point to a romantic situation, they don’t point to melancholy in an explicit way, and I feel like the lyrics are innocent in measure. where they have no agenda. We thought that LUMP [the character] would have this same combination of childishness and tactile enjoyment–and you can’t help but project some meaning into it. “
Marling and Lindsay say the recording process involved very little discussion, which both gave them a unique space to experiment. “Not knowing [Mike] well, I wasn’t too shy, and I think that created a good space, ”says Marling. The collaboration, Lindsay agrees, felt “very natural and organic.–the work seemed to be written. Laura’s words seemed to flow instantly. It was quite special.
[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Issue 64 (August/September/October 2018), which is out now. This is its debut online.]