Reviews for [RL89]
Love Letter "It Brought Us Something We Had to Know"
- Marshmallow Fortresses
"In his final film, Derek Jarman delivered a devastating series of monologues – idyllic childhood memories, mournful eulogies for lost friends, bursts of wrath as he considered his impending death – while the screen remained a static cobalt blue. Remarkably, the hue seemed to change depending on what Jarman was saying at any given moment (though the viewer knew this to be an illusion), evoking, say, heaven, hospital wards, or oblivion.
Love Letter’s recent ep,“It Brought Us Something We Had To Know” (Rok Lok Records), has a similarly prismatic effect. Depending on the moment and your particular frame of mind, these four post-rock/ambient instrumentals conjure up rage, release, peace, dread, consolation . . .
The very title is open to your interpretation. What was brought to us – something we needed to know? Something we had to have known already?
The first track, “Rising Into the Sky,” is stunning. Roiling, distorted guitar, it’s the sound of struggle. As it intensifies in a string of distorted 64th (?) notes, gorgeous undertones emerge, like the metallic whine that rises up around 2:28. Even without drums, the sound is epic, apocalyptic, somewhat reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada” at its fiercest. Upon the final chord, though, the sound drops away. Has the struggler broken free, or just given up? It’s a haunting coda.
“Ursa Minor” features a melody line picked carefully over slowly strummed chords, at least for the first half. You hear someone deliberating from note to note, as if jumping from stone to stone against a strong, daunting current. About halfway through, the playing grows loud and frenzied, at least until the final moment. Then it sounds peaceful. Or is it resigned?
The next song is the aptly-titled “Heaven Rising (Ashes Falling).” A three-note figure rolls slowly and repeatedly over a gorgeous, multi-layered din (there’s a sequence of clanging chords that sounds like music forged from the sounds of a shipyard or construction site) until, about a third of the way through, the fog of distortion clears. There’s a quiet, lovely passage of arpeggiated notes which are gradually enveloped in another, more muted stretch of distortion. It’s somber now: you can picture the silent mushroom cloud, the falling buildings, the spread of ashes. But then comes a gorgeous coda – a series of gentle chords gently draped over the song and resolving into silence. It’s inspired, plain and simple.
Finally, there’s “Joe Pipkin All Tucked In His Bed,” a dirge over which a sweet-voiced young woman recites a Ray Bradbury story, The Halloween Tree. Like classic Ray Bradbury stories, it’s a mix of innocence and menace. Then her voice goes silent, there’s a final crescendo, and that too goes silent.
This music was made with heart and fury. You can hear it. You should hear it
- Raised By Gypsies
There are two points that need to be made about this Love Letter cassette and one of them is about another cassette somehow, but I’ll start with this one specifically. We begin with static melodies and then it becomes ambient. There are guitar notes on Side A, which remind me of an instrumental version of either Buddy Holly or Elvis Presley, but otherwise this kicks into a fairly solid FNL mode.
Even through the flip side there is a sense of ambience to the acoustic guitar strums and just generally relaxing vibe. It could be minimal, but it is mostly just peaceful and best left described as transient. It is within this second side though that I begin to think of another cassette I listened to recently, which is odd to me.
On Side B there is a reading of a piece from a Ray Bradbury novel, and somehow there is also an audio clip from Fahrenheit 451 on the Tween Heat side of that split with Water Bullet. Also, I somehow noted that Tween Heat sounded like something you would hear on Rok Lok and yet, here we are, Ray Bradbury all around.
It should just be chalked up to being a small world and all of that, even though I did listen to this Love Letter cassette first but wrote the review for the Tween Heat split first (Confusing, yes, but I don’t want to give away too much of my process thanks)
In any event, Love Letter is just such a perfect fit for Rok Lok Records (Hence, if you like Rok Lok and own their previous cassettes, just give them your money for this one as well) that it somehow gets grouped in with another cassette that isn’t even on Rok Lok but I think should be.
- United Cassettes
Love Letter is a collection of ambient and experimental tracks with two current releases on cassette through Rok Lok Records, the first of those being the tape “It Brought Us Something We Had to Know,” which is four tracks of wistful instrumentals washed out with plenty of reverberating feedback and moments of poignant-feeling clarity of sound.
Beginning with the track “Rising Into the Treetops,” a clear tone of a feeling of nostalgia or faraway sadness, coupled with a certain hypnotic grace is set forth by the layers of intensely-droney sound and juxtaposing moments of crisp, minimal instrumentals. The second track, “Ursa Minor” carries on with this same tone and yet defines itself from the prior track by the song’s melodic quality holding its own against the crashes of feedback. The third track, “Heaven Falling (Ashes Rising)” shares the balanced atmosphere of melody and drone as “Ursa Minor,” this time though, with perhaps an even more melodic nature to its sound coupled with an almost triumphant quality to the notes of droning instrumentals. The final track, “Joe Pipkin All Tucked in His Bed” begins with crisp, somber notes and carries on a minimalistic feel while a soft voice begins reading an excerpt from Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree” in the background, creating an eerie yet harmonious feeling. The track brings the tape to a close with its signature waves of humming feedback and cutting drones.
Overall from start to finish, the cassette is a beautiful sound experience and is the perfect kind of thing you’d want to listen to on a grey, rainy day or as the soundtrack to an aimlessly wandering drive around town on a cold winter night.
“It Brought Us Something We Had to Know” is available on cassette and digitally in mp3 and FLAC formats online through their record label. The cassette is transparent yellow comes with hand-painted watercolor labels. This is one any fan of ambient, drone, experimental or even classical sounds needs in their collection!
- Lost In a Sea of Sound
Here are two releases from Love Letter on Rok Lok Records. The earliest is It Brought Us Something We Had to Know. This was followed up shortly after in the same year with Gentle Memories. Love Letter has a unique style of ambient washed out drone. A huge wall of textured sounds with rippling feedback. So high, it is difficult to hear anything beyond. The wall somehow is comforting in the aspect it secures the listener rather than keeps them out.
It Brought Us Something We Had to Know is four tracks divided over two sides. "Rising Into the Treetops", the first track is a mass of sound that gives way to more gentle melodies on the second track "Ursa Minor". Here, the guitar guides the listener through the immense field of electronic weeds. The first track on the second side "Heaven Falling (Ashes Rising)", seems to combine facets of both the first two tracks. Flickering guitar melodies that become clear in an unstable fire of sound. "Joe Pipkin All Tucked In His Bed", is the last track and is all together different. More like a Bongwater song with a very young Ann Magnuson at the helm.
Gentle Memories is the second release by Love Letter on Rok Lok Records. Two side long tracks that together, approach forty minutes length. The entire cassette is very similar to It Brought Us Something We Had to Know. The biggest difference is this composition seems like it has been cooked a little longer. As there is a more raw tone with the first tape, Gentle Memories has had more to stew. The sounds are just a tad more gentle and this becomes even more apparent on the second side, titled "Fragments".
With both tapes being released only months apart, there is an feeling that seems to glue these two releases together. Both on Rok Lok Records, in editions of fifty, and available from the labels bandcamp page. There is also a Love Letter Bundle, that includes both tapes and a more recent ten inch lathe in a super limited run.