Synth Pop For The Subconscious From Williamsburg’s Lost Valley
Lost Valley is named after a place in the mountains of Maine that Williamsburg musician Nick Crane used to go skiing as a kid; he liked the phrase’s sense of mystery and that it also conjures up a feeling of magic. And it just effortlessly sounds like a band name, the same way his first record effortlessly sounds like it goes deeper than a debut. Lost Valley’s self-titled 7-song EP is totally dreamy and mellow electro pop intertwined with sexy arrangements and a high production value. Behind the scenes it’s a one-man operation, with Nick having written and recorded everything solo—save for a friend who recorded a few live drum loops and another friend who mastered the record. But on stage, Lost Valley is a five-piece band made up of guitars, bass, percussion and vocals, with tight sonic choreography syncing up with projected visuals. The band has only performed live once so far, last month at Legion (790 Metropolitan Ave.), to a sold out crowd.
Creating the EP took two years of writing, recording and arranging and pulling from decades of source material, while the live performance entailed 4-5 months of rehearsals with Nick training the band members on how to play his songs, and practicing timing the songs out to sync with the background videos. Though Nick is a video producer professionally (he produced this Danny Brown video, among others) the live show was no small feat to put together, and he says he’s not rushing the band to do another performance just yet. For now he’s working on producing and remixing some tracks with friends, and PRing Lost Valley. Nick, who’s self-taught, says he’s written hundreds of songs over the years, with the final and most introspective track on the album, Sandhill Drive, being one he’d written on acoustic guitar in high school. But even from age 2 or 3 he was making up songs and recording them onto cassettes. Then by junior high and high school he was playing piano, clarinet, bass and guitar. He’s clearly got a passion for the music he writes, and it’s evident when you listen to the album.
[Above: A video of one of the custom-edited projections from Lost Valley’s live set, for the song wasterluv.]
Lost Valley’s debut has been described by some as “bedroom music,” and a friend of mine I played the record for exclaimed, “I would totally have sex with his voice!” The tracks slink through the same sensual playground as artists like Chet Faker, Glass Animals and Local Natives. But still, Lost Valley has a unique sound, and that’s what Nick intended. He references The Unicorns, The Pixies (for their melodies), John Frusciante’s guitar work and the Talking Heads, though those are all sort of loose influences. “When I listen to albums I like to get brought into a world,” he says, referring to the immersive sound of some of his favorite records. And Lost Valley’s world is a little glittery, a little glitchy and a lot gratifying.
“I have a lot of faith in the subconscious,” Nick says, referring to his creative process. The conscious mind is slow and boring, he notes, and it generally handles “adult” tasks like doing the laundry or your taxes. But the subconscious, he muses, is probably the source of a lot of his musical inspiration. And Lost Valley’s music has a sense of being in the zone—there’s a stream of consciousness and an unforced-ness that makes music with real depth. And as rigid as Lost Valley’s live show needed to be to sync up with the videos, he still enjoys improv jamming—it quiets the decision-making mind, and it’s more instinctive. “[If] you go by feel, you play your best.” All the feels.