Lumerians: Lumerians

Sarah Moore

San Francisco rockers create music fit for a lost world.



Label: Subterranean Elephants
US Release Date: 2008-01-03
UK Release Date: Unavailable

From a distant civilization comes the self-titled EP by Lumerians. Referencing the people of Atlantis-contemporary, highly advanced, and lost society Lemuria (also spelled Lumeria), the band's name began with one spelling ("Lemurians") and came to accept the frequent misspelling ("Lumerians") as their own. "Lumeria" also references light ("lumen"), as the band's live show involves a fairly intense light show. The clear vinyl edition of the release delivers clear and crisp sound, maximizing the effects of the textured meditative rock.

As the legend of Lemuria is fantastic, so is the music of Lumerians. Other-worldly synthesizers layer amidst ambient post-rock stretches. A futuristic tribal potion is spread over the course of five tracks, totaling just under thirty minutes. "Corkscrew Trepanation" begins the record, building heavy-hitting drums, tambourines, and bells by Chris Musgrave into a solid layered foundation. Marc Melzer enters, playing bass and oozing slow and seductive vocals. His slightly-nasal and reverberating voice feels like a mantra spoken over the drone of the vacillating synth (by Tyler Green). The synthesizer's siren-like nature slowly shifts from one note to another before reaching sky-high at the pinnacle of the selection. Pretty soon this whole concoction breaks free of any restraints into what sounds like an angry tribal frenzy. The natives are restless. The drums' polyrhythm gains greater speed and volume as Jason Miller pounds the organ into submission. Eventually the noise slows to a crawl before fizzling out.

Atmospheres continue to build in the next song, "Turquoise Towers". A weirder, mystical environment is sculpted against layers of drones and intermittent vibraphone note clusters ringing at the same time. Occasionally the groups spread out very slightly, reminiscent of the early days (1990s) of an incoming AOL instant message. On and on the world is formed, as rays of synth seem to correspond with mutating amoebas and the genesis of new species.

Turning the record over, the first few bass notes warm up the soundscape of "Orgon Grinder" with a slow, churning rhythm. Whimsical faerie-like vocals by Lovage Sharrock meditate overtop the layers of electronic grime accruing. The dirge-like cadence of the song feels like marching through fields of misbehaving sound waves. The fuzzy psychedelia is less ambient than it is slowly building and creating. Electronic sirens enter the realm as the mixture gets more and more complicated. Rather than repetitive, the drones and polyrhythm feel ritualistic.

"Olive Alley" begins with Musgrave tweaking a low-end, frog-like Vietnamese mouth harp over the ringing of the synth and organ and pounding of the drums. What sounds like chanting echoes over the thunderous sounds as Musgrave conjures Gregorian monks with layers of his vocals moaning in succession or as a round. Perhaps this is what a deeply religious experience (e.g., one that takes a person out of himself) is like.

The entirety of this record involves slow-building moments into extremes and then vice versa. Although some tracks may seem to take their time getting somewhere, it's the slight and ever-occurring changes that make this record stand out. With the Lumerians EP, the destination is not nearly as important as the subtle changes taking the listener to another time and place.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.