Lymbyc Systym on Live Adaptation and Evolution

Before their beautiful full-length debut of Love Your Abuser on Mush Records, brothers Michael and Jared Bell made well-crafted, keyboard-driven post-rock for their Carved by Glaciers EP.

The duo’s heartening tunes employ piano, synthesizers, organs, xylophones, brass instruments, and much more to provide a gorgeous multi-layered mix, which can be heard again via Carved by Glaciers with last week’s re-release on Magic Bullet Records.

Lymbyc Systym also released a split with This Will Destroy You last week, and the duo is busy at work on a new full-length effort. Online editor Scott Morrow caught up with Michael Bell to discuss the band’s recording process, translation to live performance, and upcoming album.

With one of you in Brooklyn, NY and one in Austin, TX, what is your process for writing and recording songs? How much room is there for alterations once you begin recording?

For our recent recordings (Field Studies and our upcoming full-length), the writing process and demoing was mostly done through e-mail. We would trade melodic and percussive ideas back and forth using, edit each other’s ideas, and then exchange things back again.

Eventually, we got together and recorded at Uniform Recording in Philadelphia, where our engineer friend Jeff Ziegler recorded us mostly on an old analog tape machine and a bit directly into digital software.

There is always room for editing and alterations throughout the recording process. Even stuff we had recorded in analog format was eventually transferred to digital, and we both have mini computer studios at home, so a fair amount of editing and additional recording was completed at home in our respective ghetto studios.

Because you don’t have vocals, you’re categorized as instrumental. Do you feel that music should be separated into these two categories?

I think that pigeon-holing music in general is rather inane, but then again, people need descriptions to help sort things in their own minds, and maybe categories help people to discover music within what they would consider to be their realms of taste.

Obviously, the term instrumental refers to music without vocals and lyrics, so I have no problem with this term.

How much do you need to alter your material to perform live? How much of each song is sequenced when you perform?

We use a laptop when we perform live, but other than elements inititally created on a computer such as electronic percussion and digitally manipulated textures, not much else is sequenced. We like to hold true to a certain live asthetic.

By that, I mean that all important melodies and of course unadaltered, unmanipulated drums and percussion are all performed live and not sequenced.

In order to do this, the live arrangements of our tunes are ineveitably a bit stripped down from the recorded versions. However, we do a decent job of compensating for this by injecting a certain rambunctious energy into the live show that could not ever really be captured on record.

Many first-time LS concertgoers tend to comment on the fact that they weren’t expecting such a powerful and rowdy performance.

With a European tour, the release of the split with This Will Destroy You, and the re-release of Carved by Glaciers early this year, 2009 looks like a productive time. What can we expect from your full-length release that is in the works?

The upcoming full-length maintains the sonic asthetic LS is known for, yet ventures into some newer territory. There are some pieces that are more mellow and folky sounding than some might expect, while others take a direction that is the closest thing we’ve done to capturing a bit of our live-show energy.

Overall, I think that listerners will enjoy and respect the evolution of our sound, as it is indeed a natural continuation of what we’ve been hashing out over the last five years or so.

– Scott Morrow

Lymbyc Systym: “Truth Skull”

Lymbyc Systym:
Magic Bullet Records:

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