Lovely Few album floats through space

otaylor@thestate.com April 13, 2012 

  • ONLINE Click the link with this story at thestate.com to watch a video of The Lovely Few’s “Cassiopeia.” To hear more of the band’s music, visit www.thelovelyfew.bandcamp.com. Music can be purchased on iTunes. If you go The Lovely Few and We Roll Like Madmen When: 8 p.m. Thursday Where: Conundrum Music Hall, 626 Meeting St., West Columbia Tickets: $5 Information: www.conundrum.us

LOVELY MUSIC: “Bouncing off the Atmosphere” isn’t weightless because there are so many components — various guitars, kick drum, glockenspiel, synth and other indecipherable noises — but it feels like the music is floating through space.

The song is the second track off “The Perseids,” The Lovely Few’s album about a meteor shower with a cloud of debris that has been observed for two millennia. (Bust out the telescopes: Brief research suggests the shower is visible in mid-July every year.) The album, the first in the band’s meteor-related series, is being re-released by the Charleston label Hearts & Plugs. The Lovely Few will play a “split” release show Thursday at Conundrum Music Hall. “Split” because the band will also have “The Orionids,” an EP based on a meteor shower produced by Halley’s Comet, available.

Meteor showers?

“Meteor showers have always had this mystical connection with people throughout time,” said Mike Mewborne, the primary songwriter in The Lovely Few, a band of rotating players.

Mewborne, who has played drums with Erich Skelton and in Tigerbot Hesh, among other bands, presents his music within an atmospheric haze. Some songs are bathed in a spacey tranquility appropriate for that moment in a sci-fi film when the character realizes normality no longer exists, as heard in “Swift-Tuttle.” (The song’s title is a nod to the comet associated with The Perseids.)

The idea of writing about meteor showers happened spontaneously, a result of listening to a noise track recorded at band rehearsal. It sounded like a meteor shower. Conceptually focused writing has given Mewborne more material to explore lyrically. He married his wife, Kate, who is the band, in 2008. He found he no longer could write the spurned-lover pop song.

“It allowed me to make a personal connection, but also push myself,” Mewborne said about the meteors. “I can make this connection in my mind and blow it up to something larger. Since the older I’ve gotten and the more experienced, it’s been harder to write the typical pop song.

“So I needed to give myself a new project.”

Like relating what the constellation Cassiopeia (the one in sky shaped like a “W”) sounds like.

“One person said, ‘It’s my favorite constellation, and I know what it sounds like’,” Mewborne said of “Cassiopeia,” which is built around a sparse and deliberate electro-pop arrangement. The opening lyrics refer to different meaning cultures have assigned Cassiopeia, named after a vein queen in Greek mythology.

“The Perseids,” recorded by Kenny McWilliams at Archer Avenue Studio, is glitchy, as sounds merge with traditional instrumentation.

“What I want to hear is tension between those glitchy moments...and something that’s clean and beautiful, whether its an autoharp, classical guitar or flute,” Mewborne said. “I think it needs to have a bite to it, but I also want to create something beautiful. If it doesn’t have that balance, it can come off very cheesy or insincere.”

The record is also meticulously layered. The texture and frequent flourishes are a result, Mewborne said, of having multiple ears listen to the music so he doesn’t overdo it.

Mewborne teaches ninth grade world geography at Chapin High School and Kate teaches ninth and 10th grade English at Dutch Fork High School. For them, music creation happens when it can.

“We set aside Wednesday as rehearsal time,” Mewborne said. “Obviously, (teaching) is my job. That has to take precedence. But because of the schedule, we also have spring break, fall break and summers off.”

“The Geminids” is the next full length planned in the meteor shower series and the final album will be titled “The Heavens.” The meteor shower trajectory: from darker electronic music and sounds to something more full and symphonic.

“I’ve got a direction for it,” Mewborne said. “I think it will be really awesome.”

The band will play on WXRY-FM 99.3 at 7 p.m. The show at Conundrum starts at 8 p.m.

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