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LUCA and Mental Illness

Inspired by naturalist Charles Darwin's ​On the Origin of Species​, Last Universal Common Ancestor (Luca) is an instrumental post-rock project created to seek out the complex origins of human emotion as they relate to sound. Specifically, Luca is a conduit to translate different emotions into sound waves. The duo Jim Perrott and Matt Campbell are based out of Toronto, Canada. Luca was a Blue Ribbon Select Pick Winner for a Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe’s ​Show Us Your Musical Genius​ contest.

While reading the description of Luca, I was immediately engaged with the idea connecting emotions to sound. That is what all music essentially is, right? In their press kit they explain how the album is an exploration of mental health, that the motivation of the album stemmed from the current social complexion of the self. I hadn’t heard any of the music prior to reading that and it really helped place the music into a space in my mind from which to understand it. Music is an interpretation of varying realities, so being able to find the direction from where a voice comes from manifests the dimensions of its sonic projections. Blah! Inhale. Exhale. Like I’ve said before, context is everything.

In order to get inside of the space of Luca, we ‘ll have to begin by touching base. I’m not a huge post-rock fan. For years I didn’t even know what post-rock was. Jeff Vreys from New Noise would bring bands from Sweden and Norway to China and tour them all around. People fell in love with that Icelandic no-vocal feel to the shows, the elaborate light displays and layers upon layers of droning sounds. I can’t say that I love it but I can say that Sigur Ross is really nice… for about 10 minutes, and then I prefer listening to a garbage truck drive by, people making coffee and incoherent chatter from the neighbor's house. Its not that I think its bad. I think it speaks to people that have found this as a voice for themselves. Its almost like a huge blanket that surrounds you and makes you feel safe, makes you feel embraced. There is nothing wrong with that. I grew up in a tradition of lyrical significance, which is why I look carefully at melodies and rhythms more often than progressions. This kind of music, however, is driven by progression and dynamic. I appreciate that a great deal. Before I get too knee-deep, lets have a listen:

The first thing I did was go to Spiral Arms. When I’m waiting in a lobby, I pick up magazines and go through them backwards because I don’t want to really read it, but pick up on the coloration before I understand anything else. So I also tend to listen to the last song first. There is immediately an uplifting tone, which I imagine is the resolve this album seeks to discover. I keep waiting for a voice to come in and say something. As a singer, myself, I quickly want to hear the story, the foreground, background, a tale. But it never comes. The progression is soft and gentle and the fading guitar feedback creates a painting all around that, to me, says “It’s gonna be ok.”

Now I’ll be honest, I went through a period in my life that was significantly darker than what I experience now. I do very much understand the motivation of this kind of music and how therapeutic it can be. So, objectively, I applaud this attempt at communicating that sentimental and significant expression of care. But I am no longer in that state anymore. I am not sad or depressed nor do I fear returning again to that way of being. This music, as essential as it may be, seems to attempt to draw someone back into that state more than liberate them from it. Every ear needs its own story. I repeat, I’m not saying that this is bad. I am saying that Muscle Metal is not for me right now. The Ramones, though a breakthrough for many, have no impact on me. So, I’d have to say that if you are looking to pop in your ear buds and take a ride in the morning sun to clear your mind, Luca just may be crafted for you. My dark days have passed. I am thoroughly grateful for that. It wasn’t easy. The support I needed wasn’t there. I had no help or anyone to talk to. I was lucky. Very lucky. There are a lot of people out there that might not be so lucky, that might need someone to take their hand or send out hug, a spiral embrace. I fully understand that. It is when our community uses tools like these, vessels like these that help us reiterate our difficulties, to avoid ignorance and find the path towards healing.

Thank you for taking all of the time and energy to put these works together. I wish for you guys to grow and continue taking on issues like these. So much music is about trashing the self and devouring the soul with parties, big booties and empty love hymns that our faith in the power of music has been set aside. Keep bringing the sound. Don’t stop recording. Don’t stop creating. Read more, build more, touch more and the Art will continue to heal. I could already imagine a live show and a glorious light display that could bring a lot of people back home to where they need to be in this. I’d love to hear one of you guys say something on the next album, tell a story, read a poem, articulate the drone. Show people that the liberation from sadness, the coming free of it's shackles, is a process not a defined state. Be Good.

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