It is hard to believe it has been three years since the last full-length Lowercase Noises album. Chalk part of that up to the ever-increasing speed with which time in general seems to pass these days and the rest up to Andy Othling’s constant efforts to stay in touch with his fans, put on live performances, and regularly share new EPs, improvisations, and videos. But you have to go back to 2014’s This Is For Our Sins to find an album as immersive and conceptually integrated as The Swiss Illness which will be releasing in May. The theme once is again is a somber one, but the post rock, vocal, and folk elements that served well in telling the tragic story of Russia’s Lykov family give way to a more contemplative, modern classical leaning style that suits a highly emotional exploration of the emotion of nostalgia even as he exposes the very origins of the word.
I wanted this album to be about death, but it didn’t fit. Instead I expanded on the idea of loss and made it about nostalgia, which for me means the loss of things both large and small, both incredibly heavy and largely inconsequential. I experienced all those things in 2016, and as a result the only thing I could create was a minimal, slowly-evolving and (hopefully) beautiful dive into that feeling. Overlaid is the story and history behind the word “nostalgia”, which was coined by doctors studying Swiss mercenaries far away from home, and the physical ailments brought on by their feelings. – Andy Othling
Tied together by four brief but poignant interludes are an equal number of longer meditations in which accretions of pedal-driven guitar and choir-like voicings grow into waves of emotion and soar in arcs of longing and sadness even as they melt into gorgeous swells of strings. Eloquent piano lines are woven throughout laying out the melodic themes and marking changes in mood. Just through these threads and layers of sound the album manages to viscerally capture the melancholia and pining of nostalgia in an undeniably moving way. Indeed, all of us at one time or another suffer deeply the ravages of “the Swiss illness” and it is hard to imagine a more true musical representation of that feeling than what Andy Othling has come up with here.
The Swiss Illness is being released on CD & digital in addition to a trio of vinyl LP editions – black, white, and a very limited white splatter all of which can be ordered in a variety of bundles. Note that all pre-orders on the web site, including the “digital pack”, come with an immediate download of the Terra Incognita EP which captures four ambient guitar recordings Andy made in the New Mexico desert over a two-day period and which was previously only available to his Bandcamp subscribers. You may also be able to catch Andy performing live this summer on his upcoming living room tour. Visit the Lowercase Noises website for details on all the above.