As I write this, a massive storm is preparing to roll through the city. The clouds move like dismal, amorphous, sentient beings, menacingly, lugubriously dragging themselves across the sky; jagged strands of lightning strike some far off area while rain falls heavy and sharp like downward facing knives. But, despite all this dramatic set-up, there is still one instance of color that insists on lingering below the darkest, heaviest section of sky, one narrow sliver of apricot yellow holding on within an overwhelming expanse of grey, almost as if it is gracefully enduring the pain. This, this possibility of perpetual brightness and serenity amidst impenetrable, blinding fog, is what Academia’s latest track “Lost In Translation” feels like.
Two years ago, we featured Ethan Analco’s nostalgic track “Dreaming,” the then-debut from the emerging dream pop artist; since then, the 19 year old North Carolina native has only been evolving his sound, his recent EP Heaven Again released late last year most indicative of his accumulated skill. Personal favorite “You Know I Know” seems to capture all that is wonderfully unique about Analco’s take on the ever-evolving genre, from all his individual synth flourishes and effects to his hazy, yet dynamically silhouetted vocals whose narratives always come from a place of genuine introspection and rumination, something I almost want to call a darkened euphoria, a feeling of security borne from moments of vulnerability.
Speaking of which, Analco’s new track “Lost in Translation,” told as a “perspective to [his] past and present self,” deals with the emotions of feeling lost in life and losing your sense of direction, something not unlike a sudden rainstorm that seems to go on forever. Since the release of “Dreaming,” Analco has gone to college, and has slowly begun to realize the hardships of transitioning to adulthood – one of those feelings more potent than others, Analco admitted, was loneliness, taking a toll on his mental health. Dismayed by the lack of time with his friends and family, he immediately asks himself “I don’t know/ Why I live inside my head alone,” confessing that “I’ll only come out when the sun is gone.” The feathered synth travels in and around Analco’s honest vocals, the overall motion of the instrumentals oddly reminiscent of where it was conceived – the drives to and from community college, where he’d weave through “winding paths and bright sunrises and sunsets” during the fall semester. Analco explained further in a statement earlier this week:
Being so confused and scared only tempted the most out of introspection, and this song does its best to try to show that divide through the self given conversation. Specifically, the side of mental illness and the darkness that would never seem to lift from the perspective of my time. The discussion of facing the self I once knew, but can’t seem to hold onto anymore, is one that circles the song profusely through lyrics and sound.
Ironically, although it is a track about supposedly losing the person he once was, “Lost in Translation” has Analco at his best and brightest, and may even be the best track he’s ever composed to date. The synth builds steadily, filtering in a metallic flourish or bright chime, embellishing as much as building a steady foundation. It brilliantly shudders at times, just as the sky does seconds before it starts to rain, where the clouds condense, darken, and team with rain at their hemlines. And rain it does, in the verses; but much like how rain places a shine on land and perfumes the air with the wistful, pure scent of petrichor, so does the tail-end of the choruses as well as the last, blissfully introspective minute of the track itself, as the dismal verses subside and Analco looks outward, weathered by the past but newly matured for the future:
Only after I could make it through this period was where I was able to see the big picture. From the memory of the moments I share now, with the awareness of all that I’ve made it through with, the feelings will always scare and linger with me, but only now do I have a better sense of myself and the world around me. I still manage to battle the storm that is mental illness, but only now can I appreciate the progress I’ve made from the darkest point of my life so far….only now can I truly appreciate the rainbow after the storm.
“Lost in Translation” is officially out tomorrow, 5/29. Listen to it below.
photo courtesy of artist