Influenced by music that transcends cultural, historical and genre assumptions, such as 1970s German Krautrock bands Can and Neu!, as well as African, South American and Turkish psychedelic rock, The Lumerians manage to create a sound that is neither of past, present nor future but simply of intelligent but not over-thought quality. This may be why their recent release is a treasure isolated from trend, superbly avoiding the fashionable ‘avant-good’ shock value aesthetic as well as the overused ‘retro’ boilerplate. Titled The High Frontier, it is an allusion to the colonisation of space or more accurately, as Marc Melzer (bass, vocals) puts it, ‘the colonisation of consciousness’. What place could be more suitable for such otherworldliness than the space surrounding us? The space inside us.

Listening to The High Frontier – their third LP and first proper UK release after Transmalinnia and Transmissions from Telos Vol. IV – is like climbing down Rapunzel’s plaited hair to reach underwater worlds of undiscovered sonic rules, yet each strain of the on-the-whole golden braid is of a different colour, texture and density, and the goal is not to free a woman but to free one’s mind – of earthly confides. Although The Lumerians make use of terrestrial structures during moments when psychedelic fuzz box distortion or a prominent Krautrock beat come to the fore, the overall result is an out-of-this-world pastiche that eliminates its individual elements. one small seed made contact to the Caverns of Telos, Spaceship Earth, where Melzer was at the time of this interview, and received the following information:



Your influences seem predominantly un-American – German Krautrock bands such as Neu! and Can, as well as African, South American and Turkish psych – how conscious is this attraction to foreign music?

The attraction is immediately conscious as much as visceral. There’s something a bit more exciting and seemingly honest about a lot of music that isn’t trying to fit within the traditional western pop music paradigm, but maybe that’s just because we can’t understand what they’re singing about.

What draws you to rare rock music from places such as Latin America, Africa and the Middle East – which are generally not associated with having much of a history with the genre?

It’s fascinating to hear something so seemingly well-traversed and played-out through a different cultural filter and realise there are still so many new places to go sonically. It also seems that in places that have such well established musical heritages, the people that gravitate toward rock do so out of a very genuine passion. It’s harder to find the records and then find an audience to listen to that kind of music.

The enthusiasm and willingness to explore is coming from the same place that makes us seek out and emulate their records. It’s a beautiful feedback loop.



I also see that one of your tracks on The High Frontier is called ‘Dogon Genesis’ – I’m presuming it refers to the Dogon tribe of Mali who had an advanced knowledge of astronomy independent from what was known in the West, is this true? You seem to not only have an interest in undiscovered musical gems from far away places but in unacknowledged accomplishments in general, what brought about this curiosity?

This is a fascinating, cosmic creation myth. Or is it a myth? Maybe they know something we don’t. We are attracted to interesting ideas that lie outside the western scope of reality.

Do you listen to South African psych rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s such as Freedom’s Children or The Third Eye? Or what other favourites do you have?

We really dig a lot of recently unearthed Zambian rock. Bands like Witch and Amanaz have such an interesting approach to music. You can hear their western influences, but they have such a unique voice of their own.



Your album Transmissions from Telos Vol. IV. was ‘a collection of instrumental spontaneous compositions’, whereas your debut LP release Transmalinnia was ‘almost entirely scrapped and re-recorded several times’. Can you explain the different philosophies behind the improvisation vs perfection approaches to recording?

We have our own studio and record almost everything we do. Often, the first thing we play when we walk into the studio is interesting. Sometimes these ideas are rough, sometimes fully formed. The spontaneous songs that are recorded get considered for release just the way they are. The rough ideas that stay in our heads are the ones that get arranged and recorded in a more traditional sense.

What made you decide to use more vocals on your new album The High Frontier than there were on your debut LP Transmalinnia? Do you think it makes it easier for the audience to connect with you?

It wasn’t really a conscious decision, just a result of our process. Some songs have room for or need vocals, others don’t. There is a human interest aspect to music though.

It seems that people can insert themselves into the experience easier if there are vocals. It’s almost like the difference between figurative and abstract art.



Can you explain the name The High Frontier, does it have to do with human colonies in space? How does that relate to your music?

That vision was the starting point, but I think the real attraction for us is the colonisation of consciousness. Of one’s own inner-space.

Many things can serve as a vehicle. In this case, it’s music, and… whatever else you happened to take that night.

What are your thoughts on the Mars One project?

Staying in a ‘living unit’ sounds as horrifying as say possibly ‘Martian Time-Slip’. However, with all the radiation that was released in Fukushima, we might have to reconsider our position.

Steps toward the colonisation of Mars are definitely progress in the right direction. The privatisation of space travel poses some worrisome potentials, but so long as NASA is under-funded and there is not a significant international space organisation, it’s nice to know that someone is carrying the torch in the meantime.



If you had full authority over the design, organisation and social structure of an actual human settlement in space, what would it look like ideally? Would you play a show in space?

It would look like camping, but in space. Playing in zero gravity is a dream of ours. As is finger-painting the cave walls of a faraway world.

How would you say, does your music relate to time? Could music have the ability to transgress, distort or stop time?

Definitely the perception of it. We’ll let you know if we make any further concrete breakthroughs.

I googled ‘Koman Tong’ – one of the tracks on The High Frontier – and found out that it is the Thai name for the female version of a Toyol – a child spirit in Malay mythology of South East Asia. And it is mainly used for mischief, such as stealing for example. Have you had any experience with such a spirit?

Quite possibly. There are always little unexplained inconveniences that could have been executed by tiny phantom hands. How do perfectly wrapped cables become tangled when left alone in the studio?

The song does sound a bit like it could be the soundtrack to a mischievous venture. How did that become the title of the song?

The song itself was heavily inspired by Thai and Cambodian pop from the ’60s and ’70s. There was a story in the news shortly after we finished the song about a black market ring in Bangkok that specialised in the selling of gold-leafed, mummified human fetuses used in animistic black magic rituals. The dominant religion in Thailand is Buddhism, but this is most certainly not a Buddhist practice. It’s fascinating that beneath any society’s dominant religion lie older superstitions and beliefs of indeterminate origin. These ideas are so deeply seeded in our collective subconscious that they resonate in a uniquely disturbing way when dredged up.

Interview by Christine Hogg