Throughout the last few months, something that I’ve had come up time and time again is old memories.
Whether it be of an old friendship that has fallen apart, something that gave you comfort a long time ago, or something you wish you could go back and change, things from the past creep back when every day echoes all of the others.
From there you choose to hold on to that memory of what was lost, or choose to move on and forget. “Lost,” the third album by the Japanese symphonic rock group Sound Horizon, takes this idea and puts it through the lens of music and fantasy.
Each song represents a different memory of someone. A man who chooses to move on from a past love, mourning a lost home, a mother’s denial over the memory of a lost child, a memory leading to self destruction and more put to situations and songs that echo archetypal stories you might see in fairy tales and fantasy.
The translations, done by a fan going by the name “Defade,” read more like poetry than songs. How the album’s story interconnects between the songs is vague and largely up to the interpretation of the person studying the lyrics, but there is a lot of food for thought in the individual songs on how memories keep on flowing, or are pushed down until they are forced to come up.
The album has many creative and ambitious moments; some work well while others fall short. In rereading the lyrics and listening back, I came to remember both why I’ve loved this band since discovering it years ago, and how creativity can fall short if one hasn’t developed their chops yet.
“Lost” bounces from rock, to jazz, to pop, to piano ballad, mixing in genres and inspirations that would define the sounds mixed into later Sound Horizon work. It also makes creative use of sound effects to heighten scenes in the storytelling.
You also hear the band’s young age in the instrumentation. The creativity in the music can be heard through the use of a variety of instruments, including some that are midi-generated. This contrasts with the heavily orchestrated music in later albums like “Moira,” or the more famous Linked Horizon works like “Attack on Titan.” But despite the scrappy nature of it, the production on “Lost” sounds polished when solos come out into the forefront. Notable examples of this element are the accordion and mallets in “The Game within the Cage” and the instrumental-heavy “The Bottom of the Water of Memories” that follows.
“The Lost Poem” is a really interesting experiment – inventing its own language to represent a lost era and a lost country destroyed overnight. However, the second song in the tracklist is less fortunate in its use of language; poorly executed English by singer Jimag is sung over an admittedly fun rock instrumental. Just don’t hope to get much out of “White Illusion” beyond what you hear.
“Lost” was the first album of the group to use a multitude of vocalists, but it would still be years before composer and frontman Revo himself took to the microphone or stage, as he would later be known for. Despite the group being now well-known in Japan, this album itself has become a lost memory over the years.
Under the Sound Horizon moniker, Revo’s work is now filling concert halls and stadiums, taking on different ideas and concepts with each album of fantasy suites and metaphor-heavy stories. But before that, albums like “Lost” were little more than a passion project.
Before reaching international acclaim as in the “Attack on Titan” openings and the soundtracks to the games “Bravely Default” and “Bravely Default II,” Revo got his start as an independent composer and music producer, selling his works at fan convention booths and sharing music on his website in the early 2000s.
Despite the albums being numbered, “Lost” and its doujin (independently produced) counterparts in the discography are not currently being officially sold or reproduced, despite being referenced in later works.Over time, those albums, including “Lost,” have become harder and harder to come by. I could only find one for sale online that I could get in the U.S., and it would cost me over $1,189 just for the CD.Thankfully, the fans have preserved the album, its art book and the other independent works online, and from the English translation, having been put into other languages by a relatively small but dedicated international fanbase.While not perfect, it has grown in appreciation among many of the international fans over the years following callbacks in new works and live performances, in large part due to its stories and themes.
Perhaps over the course of the last few months, Revo too has been looking back at old memories. Recently, a melody from “Lost” made its way into the newest Sound Horizon release, “Wish on an Ema! (Prologue Edition)”, to reference what else but exploring memories.
If there was anything that the pandemic’s relative isolation brought, it was the ability to reflect on your past and where you are now, for better or for worse.
Maybe you will remember a weird CD you got at a convention all those years ago. Maybe it turned out to be something special. If not for yourself, then for the others who may have been too late to experience it – much like the lessons you’ve learned from your own memories.
Jay Bradley is a third year journalism major. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Art by Julia Young.