An Interview with CS Luxem and Hypermortal – Sound + Vision Sessions

Sound+Vision Sessions #3 is 7-9 p.m. on Friday, September 28 and features the local artists CS Luxem and Hypermortal.

If you have an ear even remotely close to the ground of the local music community, it is likely you have heard the name CS Luxem. Christopher Luxem is a veteran of the local scene—a talented singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and collaborator. His music is a pleasant mixture of folk and indie rock, even with hints of punk from time to time, if the performance includes a full band backing him. He also is responsible for one of my favorite moments in local music as of late, performing his ambient cover of Heidi Lynne Gluck's "Where Will They Bury Me?" at the release of the first edition of the Lawrence Songbook back in March. 

Rounding out the event is psych-doom-funk-weird metal band Hypermortal. Members of the scene since 2012, they are in the process of transitioning from a previous musical identity, known as Hyperbor (but fret not any potential confusion, searching for either name in the LPL catalog will yield their titles). I first met the group several years ago while performing on the same bill in the 360° live music arena that is the basement of Frank's North Star Tavern (which I don't believe is utilized for shows anymore, sadly). Their music is an eclectic barrage of all things groove, threaded together neatly with heavy metal styling. To top it all off, all three members are incredibly kind and wield encyclopedic knowledge of a wide swathe of music history.


Q&A

I had a chance to ask Christopher about his recently released LP Symptoms and how he goes about writing for different performance settings.

JB: How long have you been a part of the Lawrence music community? What do you enjoy most about it? 

CL: I’ve been a part of the Lawrence music community for over 10 years. I enjoy its constant evolution and the different waves of inspiration that come and go. 

JB: Your music translates wonderfully between solo acoustic shows and full band ragers. When you write music, do you keep both approaches in mind?

CL: I do keep both approaches in mind. I generally write music with just voice and guitar at first but will hear the bass lines, drum parts or any other melody lines in my head then I have always used a number of collaborators to achieve those sounds into a recording or live setting. 

JB: Symptoms was a hotly anticipated release in the local music community. How long had that album been in the works?

CL: Probably about five years. We recorded a lot of the songs a few times before we settled on versions we were completely happy with. It really picked up steam with overdubs and mixing during the last year and then it was all the preparation regarding format and design. The next album won’t take 5 years because we learned a lot during this last process. 

JB: What is your favorite library moment?

CL: Performing Harry Nilsson’s The Point! with my friends Bobby Sauder and Henry Bial at a story time one afternoon. 

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Catch the video for "Feed the Dogs" from Symptoms here:

And be sure to find CS Luxem's most recent release, Symptoms, in the LPL catalog!


I spoke with Hypermortal bassist and front man Daniel Glascock about their unique sound, history, and their recent identity shift. 

JB: How long have you been a part of the Lawrence music community? What do you enjoy most about it?

DG: I (Daniel Glascock, bass/vox/keys) moved to Lawrence from Newton in 2012. Life had gotten a little stale there, and I had been stagnating mentally, physically, and spiritually. When that happens it's always good to get a fresh start. I had always had the intent in the back of my mind to come here so that I could start playing live music... Knowing Sam (Piper, guitar) was my "in" with Lawrence, and after meeting Travis (Baker, drums) and living with the two of them, the next obvious step was to start gigging together. 

We started out playing my solo material, but after a few months we all decided to work on becoming heavier and collaborating as Hyperbor. It's been a fun and rewarding series of events since then. The nice thing about the Lawrence music community is also kind of its undoing - it is ubiquitous. I often joke that you can throw a rock and hit a musician in this town, and it's true. Everyone is in a band, or they're friends with someone in a band. Chances are, if you're in a band, you're like us and are in several other projects as well.

The mere fact that there is all of this talent concentrated into such a small area doesn't make it any less special, but there's certainly no mystery to it or lack of it. This can be desensitizing to a lot of folks because it almost becomes blasé to a point, but as someone who came from a place where there is absolutely no music scene I'm forever grateful to be here amongst so many like-minded and hard working musicians and artists. That being said, everyone is coming from totally different places stylistically, so it's still easy to stand out amongst your peers as long as you are doing YOU and not trying to sound like someone else.  

JB: You recently changed your name from Hyperbor. What was the impetus for that change?

DG: On our last album Mondo Violento, the guys had come across an article talking about "hypermortalization," a term that a journalist had coined to describe a lost generation of Russian youth. Due to rampant political and economic corruption in their country, an entire generation has inherited poverty with no chance for upward mobility, and in turn alcoholism and drug abuse is rampant, leading many to develop early health problems and much higher mortality rates. Of course, for many reasons America is following a similar trajectory of corruption and disaffected youth.

The three of us see this systematic decline on a day to day basis in the work place, amongst our peers, and in the news. We named a song on the album "Hypermortal," and the more I thought about it, knowing that we would be changing our name at some point, the more it just made sense. With Hypermortal it really feels like we have a concept of substance to contextualize our music with. There's a desperation and a darkness to it, there is political relevance to it, yet there is a hope and beauty in facing this reality. There is real dynamic and purpose to what we do, and it only took roughly five years to get a band name we're satisfied with.

JB: It is obvious that your music draws inspiration from many different places. How would you describe Hypermortal's sound?

DG: At the baseline of our sound is our shared love of the godfathers of grunge: Melvins. Their discography and their many shows we've attended inspired us to get the gear that we have: Sam plays an aluminum guitar, Travis has the biggest china cymbal you've ever seen, and I play through a Sunn amp...

When you put us all together in a room, I'd like to think that we stand on our own genre-wise. We all love seventies psych music like Can, Camel, Captain Beefheart, and Captain Beyond. The post-punk scene of Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Liquid Liquid informs a lot of our DIY sensibilities. But you can't leave out our love of funk bands like Funkadelic, Slave, Dam-Funk, and the almighty James Brown. These are all bands that had no hangups about experimenting and creating a genre unto themselves. This unique expressionism is what makes music compelling in the first place, and the more natural it comes, the better. When you ask what a band's sound is, they can say it's hard to describe because they haven't thought about it that much, or they can say it's definitely this one "thing," or they can give you an approximation of genre, instrumentation, or influence.

We get pigeon-holed easily as another metal band, but I think if you were to ask most metal guys how metal we sound, they'd turn their noses up at it. I'll say what I've always said, we're "Doom Funk," but if you'd like a more sophisticated answer we are heavy progressive psychedelic rock with experimental tendencies. These descriptors are only getting more antiquated and irrelevant as we grow our sound. I've added keyboards to the mix, and we've been working at refining our compositions into an even more dynamic and challenging paradigm. It's exciting stuff, and more than a few people have said our live show is a journey. 

JB: What is your favorite library moment?

DG: For us, the Sound and Vision lab has been an immensely useful tool. We tracked guitar for an upcoming release there, and the fact that they have Protools made what can be an arduous task go by seemingly effortlessly. For a lot of musicians, the recording process can be so temperamental. A piece of gear won't work, the computer's running too slow, there's too much outside noise, or somebody is just in a bad mood. All of these things can turn a four minute song into an eight hour ordeal.

That's why record companies used to drop hundreds of thousands of dollars on studio time for a clean professional product. The library literally provides a better studio than what The Beatles had to record with, and it's virtually free. That is something really special, and all of us local musicians are lucky to have it at our disposal.

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Preview Hypermortal's video "Wanderers of the Void" from Mondo Violento here:

You can find Hypermortal in our catalog.

Both CS Luxem and Hypermortal will perform in the Lawrence Public Library auditorium at 7:00pm on Friday, September 28th. The event is free and for all ages. 

-Joel Bonner is a Technology Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.

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