Loma: How Will I Live Without A Body? (Coloured Vinyl LP)

Loma: How Will I Live Without A Body? (Coloured Vinyl LP)

Regular price €29.95 €0.00 Unit price per

January 2023, Dorset. Snow is piled at the door, icy roads are closed, and Emily Cross is in a coffin. Not a setting typical for a rebirth. But for Loma, this is where they bring their band back from the brink. “It's like a demon enters the room, whenever we get together”, writer, singer and instrumentalist Cross says of the struggle to bring new Loma music into the world.

Following the release of their 2020 second album Don’t Shy Away, Loma’s three members were cast around the globe and the band—not for the first time—entered a deep sleep. Multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer Dan Duszynski remained in his studio in Don’t Shy Away’s central Texas heart, but Cross, a UK citizen, moved to Dorset, and writer and instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg left the US for Germany to research a book. In the pandemic years, even being in the same room was impossible, and attempts to start a new record faltered. "We got lost," admits Meiburg, "and stayed that way for a long time.”

The trio's personal lives diverged, and remote sessions didn't gel; a post-pandemic reunion in Texas was cut to a few frustrating days by an illness, and a pile of half-finished tracks was an unruly mess. The following winter, in an attempt to salvage the record and the band, Cross suggested they regroup in the UK, in the tiny stone house—once a coffin-maker’s workshop—where she works as an end-of-life doula. With minimal recording gear and few instruments, Loma turned two whitewashed rooms into a makeshift studio, using a padded coffin as a vocal booth. It was a turning point.

"There was a sense of, well, this is it," Meiburg recalls. "And I had my doubts, especially when that ice storm swept in; I thought, here we go again. But sitting in our heavy coats around a little electric radiator, we realized how much we'd missed each other—and that just being together was precious.” They scrapped much of what they'd made, letting a new place set a new course.

The first two Loma albums feature the sounds of Texan animals and landscapes, and the one-lane roads, hedgerows and dark skies of Dorset gave the new songs an ineffable but unmistakable Englishness. The band used the ruin of a 12th-century chapel as a reverb chamber—surprising hillwalkers who peeked in to find them singing to no one—and the sounds of Cross’s chilly workshop wormed their way into the recording: a leaky pipe, a drummer’s brushes on a metal lampshade, the voices left on an ancient answering machine.

What emerged was How Will I Live Without A Body?: a gorgeous, unique, and oddly comforting album about partnership, loss, regeneration, and fighting the feeling that we're all in this alone. Many of its songs have a feeling of restless motion; faceless characters drift through meetings and partings, tangling together and slipping away. ‘I Swallowed A Stone’ is like a nightmare with a happy ending; ‘How It Starts’ and ‘Broken Doorbell’ reflect on the challenge (and necessity) of wrestling with agoraphobia.

Though the record nods to the trio’s separate lives— a German percussion ensemble, a pair of Texan owls, and the surf at Chesil Beach make guest appearances—the core of Loma's sound remains intact: earthy, organic and deeply human, anchored by Cross's cool, clear voice. Most artists want their records to be listened to as a whole. But with Loma, it’s particularly rewarding, and How Will I Live Without A Body? reveals itself more with every listen.

Songs that begin as riddles swim into focus when listened to in sequence; images return and interact in unexpected ways, and something like a narrative begins to form. It’s also a record of two distinct halves. A compelling sense of wandering engulfs the A-side, as the trudging progress of opener ‘Please, Come In’ staggers and sways through succeeding tracks to the album’s centerpiece, ‘How It Starts’—which gathers strength and purpose, flooding the B-side with a hope that embraces darkness without surrendering to it.

Loma’s previous album, Don’t Shy Away, was galvanised by the unexpected encouragement (and eventual contributions) of Brian Eno. This time, they found inspiration in another hero, Laurie Anderson, who offered a chance to work with an AI trained on her entire body of work. Meiburg sent her a photo from his book-in-progress about the once and future life of Antarctica; Anderson’s AI responded with two haunting poems. “We used parts of them in a few songs,” he says. “And then Dan noticed that one of its lines, “How will I live without a body?” would be a perfect name for the album, since we nearly lost sight of each other in the recording process.” Anderson, Meiburg adds, was happy for the band to use the title. “I think she was tickled that her AI doppelganger is running around naming other people’s records.”

But in the end, Loma’s efforts to reconnect with one another are the album's central focus: what do you owe a shared past, when everyone and everything has changed? “Making this record tested us all,” says Duszynski. “I think that feeling was alchemized through the music.” Alchemized, because How Will I Live Without A Body? is by no means a stressed-out record: an undercurrent of deep calm runs through it. “Somehow, out of the chaos, we made something that sounds very relaxed,” Cross notes, mystified. But maybe ‘relaxed’ isn’t the right word. It’s more like a feeling of relief, of making it through a tough journey together. “I've never run a marathon,” Cross says. “But I can imagine it's kind of what that feels like.” This is how it starts, to move again.

Orange vinyl version.

  1. Please, Come In
  2. Arrhythmia
  3. Unbraiding
  4. I Swallowed a Stone
  5. How It Starts
  6. Dark Trio
  7. A Steady Mind
  8. Pink Sky
  9. Broken Doorbell
  10. Affinity
  11. Turnaround

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