Hypnotic and daringly simple, full of the tinkly jangle of toy instruments, Lullatone’s music will just make you feel good. It’s unafraid to be innocent and childlike.
Now, following in the footsteps of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, they’ve concocted “Elevator Music” in a pay-what-you-wish Bandcamp album. (That’s part of the beauty of Bandcamp.) The duo of Shawn James and Yoshimi Seymour is joined by guest vocalist Tateishi Souta and the Sakuragaoka Junior High School Choir. If it sounds a bit like music for tots, see the looping lullabies album after the break. (With all the electronic artists I know having babies, this may be just the thing.) But it’s also more than that, they say:
We propose a new kind of elevator music – one that makes you want to snap and clap, and talk to the stranger next to you.
We’d like to feel like going up and down vertically in a box held up by wires is a magical adventure.
But, we’d also like elevator music that sometimes makes you want to get out of the elevator and take a walk outside.
Lately most of the elevators in our city don’t play music, so we imagine songs like these when we ride them.
Speaking of simple ideas that can make the world better, Shawn sends CDM a quick video of their DIY rolling keyboard stand. Making the music keyboard coexist with a computer setup has long been a challenge, with some sometimes-odd solutions. (If you haven’t seen the infamous Creative Labs Prodikeys demo, take a moment.) This rig is essential for making the clean, tidy setup they need to make this sort of music – but might also work for the same reason for you, too. (Or, if you need to make something more grungy, then I suggest instead heaping your keyboard atop a mound of dirty laundry instead.)
Updated: Those aren’t IKEA desks. The smaller one with casters they built themselves; the larger one is store-bought, but from a Japanese maker, not a Swedish one. Shawn writes:
All of the wood is pine from our local hardware store. It is only a 3 minute walk from our house, so I am always in that place.
The base is 3cmx3cm pieces and the top 35cm x 90cm.
The bottom are the smallest plastic wheels we could find.
At first I tried to build it all without any screws, only using pegs and glue. But after it was all together, I realized that my less than expert handyman skills left me with a wobbly mess.
So I went back and re-inforced it with stainless L brackets hidden on the backside. After that, smooth rolling!
I had a nice sketch, but my little helper drew trains and scribbles all over half through, so I had to wing it from there.
[The larger desk] is from a Japanese company called Nitori. But, it is really similar to Ikea.
More Lullatone goodness:
A good album to start with, I think, in terms of its range, is their 2006 “Plays Pajama Pop Pour Vous.” For all its dreamlike minimalism, it’s got real songs on it.
The latest lullabies release is “Looping Lullabies” from September, and perhaps as welcome for insomniacs or fans of daydreams as it is for babies and parents.
From a pure sound design perspective, their 2003, all-sine-wave “Computer Recital” put the duo on the map. It’s the sort of self-imposed restriction that’d terrify most of us, and they pulled it off.
I love their aesthetic sensibilities, visually and musically; they’ve really created this dreamy, saturated, sparse childhood wonderland. And they’re doing terrific things with electronic sounds and vocals (solo and young persons’ choirs) at a time when each of the two can fall into familiar ruts. I can think of no better time for it, either; their terrific blog and albums are like having instant access to the musical/visual equivalent of a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp.
Now I can go back to them and be a good kid and clean up my workspace now and then…
All photos courtesy/(C) Lullatone.
This just triggered a nasty flashback to the interstitial music used in low budget CBC children's programming in the '60's.
It really make me happy!!
that keyboard stand is cool, but my Keystation pro probably wouldn't fit.
Some days I really dislike my keyboard. Some days.
Thanks for sharing. I bought the Elevator Music album for $10 – although mentioned, you can name your price if you've not bought from bandcamp before. Might be worth putting more emphasis on that, Peter.
Great stuff. Thanks for featuring it.
ERROR 420: Your request for indie-cred cannot be completed.
The following quotas have been exceeded: glockenspiel, pajamas, wide-eyed toddleresque wonderment, ikea furniture,
… and in case anyone wants to get all flamey:
"I keeed, I keeeed" – Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
it's nice in it's own way … and they have definitely put something together here that people enjoy.
… for me to poop on
@plurgid: All old news. Lullatone was on the scene in 2003. IKEA was founded in WWII. Glockenspiel was good enough for Mozart (among others). Pajamas …are pajamas. (They're totally comfy.) Wonderment is fun. And I'd bet good money those lullabies would totally relax babies.
I do like an indie quota, though; that'd be hilarious. But I'd just go all Web 2.0 and use on-demand cloud indie cred cluster load-balancing.
hey, man I'm just kiddin'
it might not be up my alley, but these guys had an artistic vision and got their shit together, which is more than I can say I've accomplished lately.
All snarkitism aside, Hats of to them 🙂
I HIGHLY reccomend watching the Prodikeys video along with the first track of Elevator music. Fantastic.
Thanks for sharing, Peter.
Does anyone know which two Ikea models they are using (for the keyboard stand) – if it will fit, I may try to recreate in my tiny apt.
I've been a fan of these guys for many years. They exhibit a tranquility that I often long to have in my own music and life.
Shit, I lived in Nagoya and met him. That is pretty cool.
Sometime I have trouble sleeping. Last night was one such night, so I remembered this article. Went and searched through some of their back catalog and "We Will Rock You…..To Sleep" wound me down perfectly. I don't know what Plurgid is talking about though. Glockenspiel has been like the hippest thing in Indie Rock/Folk for the past couple years!
This sounds like a car commercial
Since this is a music site (I thought I ready everything too) does anyone know what software they're using? It's pretty cool to have such a big body of work in your own style. Their package/vibe is very cool. Peter, if you know any more about their writing/creative process, I'd be interested. : >
Really cools 😉
Might need some of this in the near future 😉
Sounds nice! Funny that you posted this now. I didn't know about lullatone but am working on a similar concept for my RPM Challenge album – electronic music for kids. Though mine is going to be slightly more like IDM for kids. 😀
Dude keep me posted on that IDM for kids project, I'd love to hear it.
@sjc, it looks a lot like Ableton on his screen on the photo with the choir.
But essentially he's using software merely to record and edit, so it doesn't matter too much. Use what you got.
For many years, a controller keyboard on a sliding shelf under my main desk was a necessity. I just used off the shelf keyboard tray sliders from a home center and a premade shelf board. Worked fine for years.
However it was a pain considering I had to split my workspace between grad school, internet use and music. The answer to was to buy a second laptop and split the spaces into two: a music area and a home office.
The "Plays Pajama Pop Pour Vous" Album reminds me a lot of Bogdan Raczynskis "My Love I Love" album.
very, very lovely!
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