1996: Lungfish - Sound In Time

In 1996, there really wasn’t another band like Lungfish around. They were tough to pinpoint, even among punk’s various red-headed genre stepchildren. Sure, one could place them side by side with some of the better math-rock and post-hardcore groups and get a vaguely similar read, but their methodically-spun sonic architecture and surreal spiritual-humanist lyrics stood completely apart from anything and anyone else in the indie universe to which they were ostensibly related.

By the time Sound In Time, their fifth album, rolled around in the middle of that year, Lungfish were at a crossroads. The wiry, metallic anthems that reached their apotheosis on Pass & Stow (1994) remained but oddly removed of a certain fabric, while the hymnal monoliths that emerged on Indivisible (1997) and Artificial Horizon (1998) weren’t entirely crystallized. The band at this point consisted of vocalist Daniel Higgs, guitarist-arranger Asa Osborne, drummer Mitchell Feldstein, and Sean Meadows (Boondoggle, The Sonora Pine, June of ‘44) in the bass chair. Here, Meadows’s tone exhibits a syrupy luminosity and creative sense of time that meshes with the guitar and drums’ malleable gestalt; he’d go on to appear on Indivisible and 2003’s Love is Love.

Sound In Time is bookended by instrumentals: “Constellations,” a taut overture to the band’s fluid lope, which exhibits both broad, massive scale and a quiet incision on the first lyric tune of the program; and “To Whom You Were Born,” a limber canto that moves glassily at a mid-tempo clip. “Solid State” is utterly huge in its pounding refrains, yoked to a pulse that is as natural and spare as restive breathing, with Higgs’s incantatory delivery a hushed, seething calm, while the following “X-Ray the Pharaoh” is rooted in the exuberant warp and woof of nearly brassy guitar parts. Opening the second side is the gorgeous “Signpost,” a caressing ode with a didactic, stomping center, while “The Cipher” is dryly glorious, a simple and splayed lullaby that grants words to the core of the Lungfish aesthetic at the time: “That is the nature of its force/ Not much happens when you pull it.”

Lungfish were quietly, fervently respected by a small fan base — I recall buying Sound in Time when it was released on the basis of a stellar Magnet Magazine review and immediately going back and grabbing the preceding Dischord LPs a few days later. But since the band’s 2006 dissolution, their early catalog hasn’t been easy to come by. Naturally, the sizable appeal of Higgs’s various projects (not to mention Osborne’s Zomes) have granted the band a new following that can’t subsist on digital media alone. So, for the 20th anniversary of Sound In Time, Dischord brought the LP back into print last year as a remastered edition — and who knows, maybe if we bang our collective fists hard enough, a few show dates could emerge.

DeLorean

There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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