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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Life In Miniature is out now!

Image: Supplied.

UK band Low Island have unveiled their sophomore album Life In Miniature. To celebrate the release, the band are taking MILKY through the release track by track!


So much of this album is centred around big moments of change and how we navigate them. Goodbye Bluefin is a song inspired by natal homing; the process that certain animals go through where they are born, they travel the earth far and wide, only then return to their birthplace to begin that process again for a future generation. The idea that ‘home’ has almost got its own gravitational pull, that it will always be there for us to return to no matter how far we travel, was a message I needed to hear when I left home 2 years ago.


Another important part of this album is memory and how it shapes us. The writer Penelope Lively describes how the memory we live with is ‘the moth-eaten version of past that each of us carries around […] it is our ID […] how we know who we are and where we have been.’ Can’t Forget takes the precise moment of leaving home as a springboard for the song. I remember my car being full to the roof of stuff, but could just about make out my dad crying and waving in my wing mirror as I drove away. I know it sounds melodramatic (he’s Colombian, so hopefully that helps to provide some context) but it was a moment that has become integral to my own memory ID.


There’s a line in Future Islands’ Seasons (Waiting on You) where Samuel T. Herring sings ‘when people change, they gain a piece, but they lose one too.’ I find that line heartbreakingly beautiful, and it became one of the main inspirations for this song. It also reminded me of something that the philosopher John Gray once said; that ‘you can’t have the light without the shade.’ This is a song all about the light and shade that comes with big moments of change.


Around the time we were finishing the record, my grandfather Robin died. He was one of my best friends and, like most people and their grandparents, I didn’t know life without him. With a grandparent in their 90s, death is not necessarily surprising. We knew it was coming. But in my case, that still didn’t prepare me for how I would feel when he died. And this song reflects on that moment of someone’s passing: the raising of glasses, the collecting of old photographs, the sharing of stories. None satisfactory or adequate, but all necessary.


This track is also dedicated to my grandfather, twinned with Forever Is Too Long. Penelope Lively also talks about how arbitrary memory is, how it lacks ‘shape and structure,’ and is instead an assortment of slides ‘defying chronology.’ I like to think of this track as an assortment of random slides: it begins and ends with a sample of my great grandmother (a regional actor) and great aunt performing a song called ‘I love you more and more,’ taken from a tape recording my grandfather kept at the bottom of an old chest of drawers. It also includes things like a recording of his old piano, a memory of a game we’d play in his garden with the remnants of an old parachute he had, and the words ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’ which he’d often repeat to me when a friend or family member passed. Somewhere in the collection of all of those images, sounds and words is the imprint of a person’s life.


You & Me is about losing all ambition when you fall in love, and how love can make you feel more at peace with who you are.


Words Are Out of Reach is about realising that someone you love hasn’t got long left, and the feeling of needing to drop everything to tell them that you love them.


One of my favourite things about this song is the little melody you hear at the end of the first verse. We’d spent a month recording in a house in rural France, probably starting to lose the plot a little, and we realised that the “close the door” fridge alarm was exactly the same as part of the vocal melody, so we sampled it and stuck it in the track.


This song is about growing up, and a realisation that so many of your youthful ambitions might not ever be realised. But rather than being deflated, it’s about finding a freedom in that.


The second album writing process began in summer 2021, where I was lucky enough to spend 2 months living in Mexico with my partner. I rented a studio in Mexico City and started writing songs – this was one of the only ones I wrote out there that made it on the record in the end!


We’d almost come to the end of one of the early tracking sessions, more or less with a first draft of the album, but still no clear title for it. Life In Miniature was a phrase that had been sitting around in my mind for a while – this idea that all these big moments of change that the album covered, many of them brought on or exacerbated by the pandemic, almost felt like they constituted a lifetime in and of themselves. I used the title as a basis for a song that I wrote at the acoustic guitar, and together we built up the arrangement that became the title track for the record.

Life In Miniature is out now!


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