When last we encountered Sontag Shogun, the band members were preparing to embark on separate global journeys. After recording an album’s worth of piano tracks, Jesse moved to South Korea, Jeremy moved to London and Ian held down the fort in Brooklyn. While apart, the trio continued to work on music, collecting field recordings and emailing samples back and forth. These recordings became the foundation of the LTFI EP and the upcoming album TALE.
As expected, LTFI (available on 10″ and C-20 cassette) is both eclectic and engaging. While it operates well as a teaser, it also stands on its own. It includes one track from TALE (“Let the Flies In”), two reworked tracks from Absent Warrior, Abandoned Battlefield and an aural collage that is worth the price of admission.
In its original incarnation, “Hungarian Wheat” was a gentle piano piece that began in a breeze and ended in warbling synth. In the alternate version, the band dispenses with the introduction, folds the wind and synth into the body of the piece, pumps up the reverb and smooths the song out like a pie crust. The new version of “Paper Cranes” is also more compact. The background chatter has been replaced by choral cut-ups and avian cries and coos, which is rather amusing; who wouldn’t want a live crowd to turn into birds? It’s a clear improvement on the original, which was already worthy.
Birds are also present on the title track, along with flies. Liam SInger and Cheryl Kingan share vocal duties. It’s the only lyric piece included on the EP, and exposes a different side of the band, as it may be the most accessible piece they have ever recorded. Conversely, “Gekheid Op Een Stokje” may be the least accessible, as well as the most personal. The piano is present only in pieces: cut-up keys, swept into a dustbin of disjointed samples. Street sounds and passing conversation alternate with a wordless refrain, forming an aural travel document. While the album will contain related works, this specific piece is exclusive to the EP. As the band continues its autumn tour, we look forward to more recordings like this: strangely familiar, yet just out of reach. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 1 October