This collection covers the years 2017-2020. It is a selection of songs from this productive period.
Here are some comments on the songs.
REINCARNATIONS (VOLUME 1)
Track 1: Open Up the Scar
This song was originally quite heavy. In 2019 Joe Shotaro and I formed a project called This Dark Shroud (TDS) and we did an arrangement of this, recorded it, and performed it live as a unit. I have never performed the song solo (i.e. as Marc Lowe). This version, based on the original solo recording I did, includes some strings.
Track 2: Black Nail (One Newton All Type Mix)
In the summer of 2016 my band splintered, and from the ashes of that project came this song, “Black Nail,” as a part of my new solo persona. This song, it might be said, has since become a very important song in my catalogue over the years, one that has been rearranged and remixed many times. This mix was done by the “leader” of a two-piece project called One Newton All Type (1NAT). His mix has a very Nine Inch Nails style dark piano and distorted guitar sound to it, along with some drums he programmed, and I think it’s a rather cool mix. Although I have since rearranged the song many times, I still enjoy this version.
Track 3: Burning Fire
I performed this song solo around the same time as I was with the guy who mixed the above version of “Black Nail” for three weeks, using my own programmed backing. I have not performed it since. Although the melody is the same, the version I released last year under the title “Burning Desire,” in addition to the title/chorus being different, also has a totally different arrangement and vocal from this version. There were other mixes of this in the vaults, but I like this one a lot, so I included it here.
Track 4: Raging Storm (Alternative Version)
This song was made in LOGIC back in 2017, and my project Laughing Moon from that year performed it once together. (This version, however, is a different mix I created after that performance.) The elephant-like sounds (or at least I always thought it sounded rather "elephantine"), the layers of odd time-signature drums, these things all add up to a version with many strange-sounds, I think. The version on the currently-available LP “Static Lines” (which is actually a collection of songs from the longer, now deleted “The New Noise” LP) is a completely different animal from this one, as I rearranged it with piano and “noise.”
Track 5: Little Did I Know (Piano)
I was born in the U.S., but the last time I visited my home there was in the summer of 2018. At that time I wrote and recorded a single song, and this is the song. The lyrics are fictional, but deal with someone who returns home to find that “everything had changed.” It was created with a piano riff/loop over a somewhat sad melody line. This mix includes some dance music-esque beats from the middle section onward. I performed this version, using the backing I had recorded, at a live space in Tokyo called Babel once before the Covid pandemic hit. The version here is also different from the one used in the music video that Takuya Mizukami made for me, which has some acoustic arpeggios.
Track 6: Only Three (feat. Joe Shotaro)
This song was originally written in 2018 as an electronic ballad in 3/4 time, but this version comes from the 2019 arrangement Joe and I made for TDS. Joe added a cool bottom-end groove with his bass as well as an electric guitar-like rock-ish lead on top of it, making it quite different from the original solo arrangement I had done. You may be wondering how he created a guitar sound on his bass… He was able to do so by putting two guitar strings on his bass and connecting it simultaneously to a guitar and a bass amp, then creating the guitar-like sounds with effectors. I have done a number of mixes of this song solo, but this version is more rock-ish, sort of like a “power-ballad.” In any case, I really dig Joe’s guitar-bass play here.
Track 7: Blackened Nails
By taking and in a sense “destroying” the solo arrangement of “Black Nail” by adding lots of noise to it and at times distorting the vocals, I was able to create this noisy, abstract version. Since it sounded so different, I renamed it, but if you listen closely to it I believe you will be able to make out the vocals from the original.
Track 8: You Think Nothing
In the summer of 2018 I began creating a concept album and thereby enlisted people I often met to drink with in the neighborhood I had been living in at the time, including musicians, bar owners, and friends. The result of this was an LP called “Detective: Dark River Chronicles,” and one track on it, entitled “Ibossa,” was used to create this one, albeit minus the female vocal narration. The reason I decided on this track to remake was that when my musical partner-in-crime Joe heard it the first time as part of the album, he said, “This is a good song. Why not try doing another version of it separately?” I figured I would try and, well, it’s definitely true that, even without having the context of the story around it, this track can be enjoyed on its own now.
Track 9: Gone
This one has a bit of background history to explain… I bought my first acoustic back in 2015 and, at the end of that year, I wrote this song. In 2016 I had my own band, but one of the members said that she did not want to do this song as it was “too dark.” For that reason, I only played it when I performed solo acoustic at that time. The first version I recorded was in GarageBand, but after I had gotten used to using LOGIC, and had become a bit better on the guitar as well, I recorded this version. For this, I also used a USB keyboard to add some electronic backing, and so this version has a combined acoustic/electronic sound to it. The first time Joe heard this song at my apartment in Fukuoka he was moved by it, and when we formed TDS the following year he said, “I want to do this song together!” Just last year (2021) I used the version as-is and created a music video for it. It is, after all, a rather sad song!
Track 10: Bodhidharma & the Frog ’18
Without having some background in Buddhist thought, this song would never have been made. The 2018 version has some exotic Middle Eastern-style odd-time drums added to an electronic backing. The lyrics refer to a Zen (Chan) Buddhist monk who came from India to China (Bodhidharma) to meditate, and gained enlightenment there. However, in the original tale, there is no frog; it was my idea to have the frog come and meditate beside the monk for nine years and then die, leading to the monk’s Satori experience, or enlightenment. From last year, particularly, I have become more interested in Buddhist ideas and, having been playing my acoustic a lot more, I did a new acoustic arrangement of this song, including it on the LP “Waves Between Emptiness,” released this past summer. Please have a listen and compare the two.
Track 11: Lost Control
I opened with this song when I did my first “multi-instrumentalist” solo performance at the live space UTERO in Fukuoka. Although it was written and recorded after “Black Nail,” to me, it has somewhat of a similar “Industrial” flavor to it. The sound that comes at the end is a sample of real bottles being shaken (they are effectorized).
Track 12: HateBurnPushBreak
This is another remix that derived from the original 2017 version of “Black Nail.” I took out/reordered parts of the vocals, added a bunch of electric guitar samples, and had some fun rearranging this mix. This version was done around one year prior to “Blackened Nails,” but after coming to Tokyo at the end of 2019, after the Covid pandemic began in 2020, I used the audio from this to create an animated music video with a strong message. (Though it is not currently on my YouTube page, it can still be viewed at Vimeo.)
Track 13: The Internet Is Not Real
This is a piano-based song I wrote in 2019 in Tokyo. While creating music with Sunny Yasuda via file sharing, we did a version of this together that was included on one of our LPs (with his classical guitar). This drumless solo version is not currently in circulation, so I decided to include it here. The title refers to the fact that if one looks at or thinks too much about stuff on the ‘net, one can easily become "down." What do you think?
Track 14: Leave It All Behind (feat. Joe Shotaro)
One day Joe said to me, “Marc, I’ve written a song! It’s bluesy! Could you add some vocals after listening?” This song became a blues original for our project, but this version is one that I radically remixed, adding an electronic synth part to the beginning and also playing some piano that was not on the original version. I also put a drum loop in, and I think that this version is difficult to pin down genre-wise, something like “Electronic Blues,” maybe.
Track 15: Death of the Author
The title was stolen from (or, rather, a tribute to) Roland Barthes, but the sounds come from what I had intended as an “intro track” to the final album I’d made in 2020, overlaying a number of tracks from the previous release in a chaotic melange, creating a sort of “song fragment.” When I was thinking of how to end the first part of this compilation, I remembered it, and since when I’d combined tracks from the final two LPs of 2020 into a long album entitled “Signs” I left this one out, I thought it would be the perfect closing track for the first half of this comp.