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After being occupied with solo and band projects, Florian Kmet and Stefan Németh met again last year to record “Transition”. This was Lokai’s second album after the debut “7 Million” released on their own Mosz records in 2005. A few but important things had changed since then. Firstly there was a new and adapted rehearsal space (actually Florian´s old apartment), which was a great improvement. It had a small but nice selection of acoustic and electromechanical instruments, and also recording facilities. Thus it became possible to tie together the process of composing and recording pieces, which turned out to be a fruitful way of working for the band. (Not to mention the benefits of working by daylight, in a nice old part of Vienna, having a coffee and excellent schnaps during breaks!) Anyway, in a certain sense the album had a “do it yourself” spirit to it. “We composed it, we recorded it, and we mixed it by ourselves. This is nothing special these days, but as these processes happened at the same time and not in a linear fashion, one after the other, it gave us a lot of freedom for experimenting or even doing nothing, when it felt better to do nothing. Creating this relaxed situation was important for keeping up the sensibility for the music we wanted to do and it was the best scenario for shaping the songs with precision” said Németh. Kmet also says, “At some point we decided to remove any pressure to finish the album in a set period of time. So weeks could pass until a new idea for a structure or a sound came to our minds and would be recorded as the basis for a new track.”
Four years between records is quite a long period of time and what remained for Lokai from the first album was a certain feeling of intimacy, when it becomes clear that it is a duo - just a guitar and a little bit of electronics. In addition they brought new pieces into a structured form, driven by a subtle pulse or rhythm, a distinct contrast to the debut whose free-floating forms lacked much in the way of rhythmic elements. Németh put it this way, “The structured form is something like a scaffold, which has a proportional shape and other, more complex structures, are suspended within this scaffold. Maybe the overall appearance is sometimes pretty accessible, but the details can be tricky.”
Found objects such as the body of an acoustic guitar, a prepared Fender Rhodes, little metal objects, a lonesome snare-drum, and the heating system were used to build rhythmic patterns. In addition they sampled a guitar, captured small units and organized these small sounds (the beginning of “Volver” or “4 a.m.” is a good example of that). It was “raw” sampling - no heavy processing. “After having refined the recording process it was possible for us to get much more into the sound of the acoustic instruments and the sound of the room. And so a sparkling mixture of very precise composing and recording versus playful improvising and random recording evolved out of that” states Kmet. “Talking about the basic sound objects, the Rhodes piano did a great job, because it was the missing (electromechanical) link between the electronics and the acoustic guitar, which we discovered for this album. After years of experiments with electronic sounds and different forms it became necessary to deal with traditional elements. It is important to go back not only a few years, but a long time and see what you can explore. It is about a certain essence, which remains after subtracting the aesthetics. The challenging task is to interconnect this input with a current approach to music. It is not about copying, it is about analysis and a certain logic. It is a thin red line throughout the album. A way to break with the ideas one has developed within a band and see it from a different perspective. A joyful process “ says Németh.
“Transition” as an album has a strong feeling of space and depth. It is expansive and yet detailed. For Kmet and Németh the concept of the album, the openness, was not a thesis from which the album was created but a binding theme that evolved with the album. “I could compare it to a panoramic view, where you can overview a landscape or town in a wide angle - you move along the horizon - you stop and capture a small detail, then you move on” says Németh. It is an exceptional view and one of rare beauty.