Beautifully haunting DIY folk that evokes an intriguingly concurrent exploration of the unreal and the everyday, that speaks to both our sense of past, while also speculating on future possibilities.
Through the natural world imagery of traditional English folklore, Me Lost Me sensitively explores how our sense of time and reality are shaped by both virtual and real-life experience. Jayne Dent’s vocals form the centrepiece, oscillating seamlessly from powerfully soaring to otherworldly ethereal, and are expertly layered with that of her co-vocalists. Instrumentation is rich – spanning clarinet to double bass, violin to flute – and the arrangements hypnotically immersive, with skilfully entwined electronic programming lending form to the more speculative lyrical concerns.
Me Lost Me delights in experimenting with songwriting and storytelling, creating a beguiling mix of soaring vocals and atmospheric electronics that playfully weave together disparate genres, drawing influence from folk, art pop, noise, ambient and improvised music. Hauntological in part, RPG (out on July 7th through Upset The Rhythm) is concerned with tales and with time – are we running out of it? Does insomnia cause a time loop? Do the pressures of masculinity prevent progress? Jayne Dent asks these questions and more on RPG, her homage to worldbuilding and the story as an artform, calling back to those oral traditions around a campfire, as well as modern day video games – bringing folk music into the present day as she does so.
Me Lost Me presents sound reaching in opposite directions, straddling time towards the archaic and timeless traditions of folktales, and towards the possible and potential futures of pastoral Britain and the world at large. Part speculation, part reminiscence, what results on the new album RPG is music that sounds ultimately displaced and yet omnipresent, adjacent to a hapless Vonnegut hero whose life is scattered throughout time and history, but full of wonder and curiosity rather than fear.
On track “The Oldest Trees Hold The Earth”, we see time stretched out between the branches of impossibly old beings in the woods. This track was co-written in Aarhus, Denmark with fellow Newcastle folk musician (with Danish heritage) Ditte Elly. The pair wordlessly passed a sheet of paper between each other to write the lyrics, inspired by Højbjerg and Mosegård, the woods they were sitting in. “How long should I wait/Before the moss grows?/On my skin, on my outstretched arms,” the lyrics are sung in a round, the close harmonies delicate and detailed.
A central thesis of this album is the joy of creation, something which is paid homage to in the album’s final track, “Science And Art” (Not because we need it to last/just because we needed to make it – so we invented the words/this language). It is also reflected in the definition that Jayne gives for “folk” itself. She comments, “To me, folk is quite an expansive idea. I think of it as creative work that’s often made ad-hoc, with things that are at hand and more often than not it’s born of a DIY ethos. It is songs and stories of the people, as in the traditional sense, but also creative coding, game design etc. Whatever outlet someone has for their creative expression could be described as folk. It’s the things we make because humans need to make things, and the stories we tell about ourselves and the world around us.”
Crucially, on latest album RPG, Dent expands her songwriting and looks towards the unreal locations of worldbuilding in video games for inspiration. She comments, “I think the main similarity is the importance of a song’s setting/environment to inform its narrative and textures, I’m often most inspired when out walking in the natural landscape, in cities and travelling to places I’ve never been before – the environment I’m in really impacts the work I make. While writing this album, however, I found myself inspired by imaginary landscapes, those in video games, paintings, etc. I was writing stories into these unreal locations instead. Even the songs inspired by real places, like The Oldest Trees Hold the Earth, have a very surreal quality to them in the songs, like they’re being warped and turned into something not of this world. I think that’s the main difference for me in terms of the thematic content and inspiration behind this album – I’ve been getting more and more interested in balancing surreal and fantastical environmental elements with ordinary and everyday settings.”
RPG upends the concept of the eternal return – we may be in the midst of inevitable repetition, but we tell stories whilst awaiting the passage of time.
—Upset The Rhythm