Loma – How Will I Live Without A Body?

Loma is one of those so-called projects that you hope will grow into a band you can’t ignore. With their third album, “How Will I Live Without A Body?”, it seems they’ve achieved just that. For the American-British trio, this record was a tough trial, but the result is stunningly beautiful.

Loma is a collaboration between Jonathan Meiburg (Shearwater) and the former couple Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski of Cross Record. Since their self-titled debut in 2018, they have created a quirky, hypnotic world in their songs. Back then, it was from a Texas farm with a backdrop of barking dogs and Texan chirping birds. But after their second album “Don’t Shy Away” in 2020, Jonathan moved to Germany, and Emily, a British citizen, went to Dorset.

There, in the sprawling British landscape, “How Will I Live Without A Body?” was born. In a small stone house that was once a workshop for coffins. A padded coffin was used as a vocal booth, and the ruin of a 12th-century chapel as a reverberation room. Not soundproof. Because the sounds of a leaking pipe, a metal lampshade, the voices on an old answering machine… they’ve all found an organic place on the record. And the dogs and birds now seem to have a typically British accent…

It forms the intertwined backdrop for Loma’s earthy, organic, and deeply human sound, with Emily’s cool, clear voice as a natural anchor point. A sound that could just as easily be a film, poem, painting, or photo. A visual frame for personal interpretation. A frame of slowness, contemplating life, often using metaphors in the form of nature and the elements. Where humans perhaps don’t belong or find it difficult. Giving you the feeling that you must go through this. That it heals and that hope is on the horizon. According to Loma, “How Will I Live Without A Body?” is mainly an album about partnership, loss, regeneration, and fighting the feeling that we are alone. An album as a restless movement where faceless characters drift through encounters and separations, intertwine, and then slip away again.

“How Will I Live Without A Body?” does this in two halves. The A-side is the side of wandering and searching. As in the beautiful and visual “Arrhythmia”. The piano has the rhythm of an old steam train, travelling through a desolate landscape, where dream, desire, and reality merge:

‘Can I trust how I feel every day?
Is the world what I think it to be?
In the mountains, I wait.
In the sea, I wait.
In the moss, I wait.
In the house, I wait.’

A track that seems to bundle all the strengths of the album: a beautiful (self) production with arrangements that hit just the right emotional chord in structure, tempo, and timbre. And a balanced and very effective use of piano, brass, strings, percussion, drums, clarinet, and vocals. With subtle use of every day sounds like birds and background conversations.

“Arrhythmia” is layered and slowly fully unfolds. Something you often hear with Loma, as also in the beautiful “Unbraiding” and in the pivotal track “How It Starts”, is the natural transition to side B. Where hope glimmers in the darkness without immediately giving in to it. “A Steady Mind” already sounds more uptempo and hopeful, without the slow build-up that characterizes most tracks. But the Magnum Opus is formed by “Broken Doorbell”: an almost 8-minute ominous longing that ultimately (literally) seems to wash ashore like a desperate wave on a deserted beach.

After which you can catch your breath again with the last two tracks. Where you can let everything sink in again. With “Affinity”, which seems to be recited like a poem with percussion and clarinet. And with the closer “Turnaround”. The only song you could label as singer-songwriter. Vocals and acoustic guitar. Because it can be that simple. But that’s not how Loma usually does it.

Loma constantly surprises you, and makes you dig deep into earthly existence. With earthy and organic music. “How Will I Live Without A Body?” is a profound ‘next step’ in Loma’s development. An album to lose yourself in. From a project that can confidently call itself a full-fledged band. (8/10) (Sub Pop)

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