Of all of the bands that I listen to with any regularity, Lucid is by far the most enigmatic and mysterious. I know basically nothing about this band, other than the names of the people in it and what they play. Other than that, I’m in the dark. Everything about this band just adds to the overall fascination I have with this band. The band name, the album title, the titles of the songs, the sleeve art (what little there is)… everything.
One of the things that I found most fascinating with this album, as well as their first, was the ability of Lucid’s music to actually take you somewhere. I’m not talking about an emotional rollercoaster, or evocative words. I mean, the ability to actually make a scene, or set a tone that actually makes you see something. In this way, Lucid is very cinematic. A lot of times, I think I’m listening to the recording of some old impressionistic, Lovecraftian film.
Lucid’s music is the ultimate expression of the word “illusory.” On “Who Listen,” you’re standing in a flowered field with bees buzzing around you while, off in the hazy distance, church bells chime out a haunting melody; suddenly, out of nowhere, a man’s sad groans can be heard, only to be cut off. “The Reverberation Of His Day” starts out with what sounds like a walk through a forest at dusk, complete with the howls of some lupine creature. But suddenly, you’re wading in some underground river; water drips around you, unseen creatures splash and glide through the black waters, and echoing, wavering tones sound all around you until the final end when those unseen creatures leap out.
Musically, I could compare Lucid to bands like His Name Is Alive, Lovesliescrushing, and This Mortal Coil. And even though I love those bands dearly, Lucid’s music puts all of these artists to shame. They seem like mere amateurs compared to Lucid’s ability to manipulate and create sound and atmosphere. One of the things that first struck me about Lucid’s music are the brevity of the songs. Most are under three minutes, all are under four. At first, I thought that might be a bad thing. But Lucid’s music pays no attention to time constraints. In two minutes, Lucid is able to create a mood that is just as effective and daunting as some twenty-minute dark-ambient pieces, if not more so.
With their second album, Lucid delivers more of the same eerie, spooky, captivating sounds that were on their debut album, Baby Labyrinthian. Only this time, Idylls and the Secret Remain seems to have a slightly darker and more disturbing nature underneath the odd sounds, source recordings, and themes that characterize Lucid’s music. But beneath all of the minimalism and serenity, all of the things you can put words to, there creeps a real uneasiness, a trembling apprehension. “Ephemeral Moon Dream” places you in the middle of a forest while crickets, frogs, and unknown creatures sing and croak. Ominous tones, like the feeling you’re being watched made audible, and wavering female voices and drones feel your ears. It all dissolves into a reverbed and echoing cacaphony that will cover you in goosebumps.
Even a pleasant-sounding piece like “Uncertain Whether,” with its soft guitar, wavering sonic washes, and childish vocals hide a certain apprehension. Once, when I was all alone in my house, I decided to put this CD on while I went to sleep. By the seventh track, I had to stop the CD player and stick in Seefeel because this CD was giving me some weird dreams. I’ve never had to do that with any of the other CDs I’ve listened to.
That’s not to say that all of the music on the disc makes you feel like there’s someone looking over your shoulder. There’s a lot of pleasant music on this CD as well; the variety is just another testament to this group’s skill. “Swarming Sweet” sounds like an instrumental track off a Steve Scott album — gentle ethnic percussion, a gamelan-like melody, and cascades of crystalline sound loop together into something you wouldn’t mind hearing again and again. “Baptized In Memory” is a beautifully depressing piano piece, something to listen to over and over again in an empty room while staring at the rain outside.
With this CD, you want to discuss each song in detail, simply because each song has so much detail in it. Lucid is the perfect combination of experimental music in my opinion. It’s conceptual and bizarre and otherworldly. But at the same time, it’s listenable and even moving. I don’t know where these people get their inspiration or opus, but I just hope they keep creating works of art like this one.