LOOR – In The Dark

Melancholy-in-the-club from Bristol’s LOOR, the dance project from former alt-J member Gwil Sainsbury. This song is from LOOR’s latest record, Sings In Japanese: We’re Sad Because We’re Alive, which explores the potential for cultural resonance and emotional self-exploration in the use of royalty-free samples, particularly from the Splice platform. It’s an interesting tact to take, and Sainsbury makes a good point in describing how emotionally productive it has been for him to shed his cynicism about where a sound is sourced:

[W]hat I’ve found is that by using these samples—quite shamelessly—I have been able to enhance the emotional resonance of my own electronic productions beyond my original intentions- it’s opened doors that I didn’t realise existed. These emotional spaces have in turn allowed me to explore my own emotional life in ways I couldn’t have done before.

This makes a lot of sense. The emotional value of a piece of music is in the ear of the beholder, so to speak—why should it matter if the building blocks of that music are available to everyone? Is it really that different from other forms of sampling? Or from using a I-vi-IV-V chord progression? Probably not, except for the fact that Splice is a VC-backed startup built on Goldman Sachs dollars and with an estimated worth of over half a billion dollars. To what extent do the investments flowing to companies like Splice actually benefit creators? Sainsbury recognizes this inherent conflict too:

In a way, I’m not entirely comfortable with this. I think that the commodification of music is a serious problem and, in a way, a for-profit company like Splice is part of a general wealth extraction from musicians. […] Despite the rotten core of capitalism at the heart of the EP—there is a small, beautiful mushroom growing out of it that is simultaneously joyful and yet deeply sad in its own existence.

He seems to be saying that out of something ugly, we may as well try to grow something beautiful, if for no other reason than we are essentially powerless to avoid the greed upon which the creative industries are reliant. This is a sentiment I can get behind, even reluctantly; perhaps our power is in the lasting value of what we build on the backs of the powerful. Without Velasquez having dutifully painted his portraits of Philip IV and members of that court, history wouldn’t have recorded his emotionally rich examinations of the working class and disabled.

Sings In Japanese: We’re Sad Because We’re Alive is available now on bandcamp, or wherever streams are offered. There’s also a lovely remix from 1-800 GIRLS on the record that you ought not to miss.

LOOR – “In The Dark” (bc)


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