Sometimes, eccentricity is all that is needed to make good music. A desire to do something different, a willingness to exploit all the available resources and talent can take you places. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Liv Lapaz. Berlin-based independent artist Liv made his album Drown, Yeah with just a $50 guitar bought from a trashy Chinese music store in Beijing, and an iPhone. Apparently, he didn’t even own a laptop when he started recording the songs in 2011-12. But that hardly has any effect on the melodies he was able to coax out of “Li-Li” the guitar.
I was a little sceptical about the attempt at first. I mean, many have failed to create good music even with expensive studio equipment. So it was natural on my part to feel as I did about Liv’s ambitious yet down-to-earth venture. But then I listened to the whole album, song-by-beautiful-song, and it left me appropriately chastised for having pre-conceived notions about the artist’s recording methods.
Though I must admit, Liv is by no means a brilliant singer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t expect great songs from him. I mean, one doesn’t really have to be a Celine Dion or a Whitney Houston to sing a good tune. If it is simple enough, and if you put enough emotion into it, you might just end up with an awesome track that can redefine what good music stands for.
All the layering, all the arpeggios, add to the surreal experience that is Drown, Yeah. The songs have a signature, authentic sound that can only come from a single inspiration on the artist’s part. The lyrics are, more often than not, a little weird. But they are the good kind of weird that can totally pass off as being a tad eccentric. The guitar “Li-Li” is as much an artist on this album as is Liv. She has a presence, constantly emphasized by the haunting sounds and rhythms that he charms out of her.
Amongst the hauntingly honest tunes on offer, my personal favourite would be Lady Lamonade, The Deep and Das Kind und der See. Although, Melancholia is worth a listen too. Actually, you should listen to them all and decide for yourselves. But in my honest opinion, this is one experiment that merits attention.
I was very curious as to the fate of “Li-Li” after listening to the songs. So I went over to Liv’s official website and hunted down this piece of info:
Every Box(of limited edition CDs of Drown, Yeah) also contains a piece of "Li-Li", the acoustic guitar and only instrument that was used on the album. Li-Li was smashed after recording was finished. It was then cut into exactly 100 pieces, one piece for each Limited Edition Box.
I found that quite sad. It kinda reminds you of the typical heroine from Chinese folklore – a peasant girl fakes being a princess to save the Emperor’s life. All goes well, but the heroine dies of a stray arrow from an archers’ tribute. But if you are big on owning unique memorabilia, I’m sure you would like the concept of owning a piece of an instrument which was instrumental (pun totally intended) in the success of the album.
Verdict: An experiment in eccentricity that proves to be quite successful!