As students in New York City in the mid 90s Lorraine Lelis (vocals), Stephen Krieger (beats, keyboards), and Erik Laroi (guitars) were all involved in a burgeoning multi-media art scene centered at Prentis Hall on 125th St. in upper Manhattan. The building houses Columbia University’s historic Computer Music Center, where some of the pioneers of early electronic music first used synthesizers and tape machines as compositional tools. By the late 90’s, Prentis Hall was the site of a monthly series of clandestine exhibitions featuring experimental music, art, and performance. It was at the very first of these events that Krieger’s band The Freight Elevator Quartet, whose collaboration with DJ Spooky on the File Under Futurism (Caipirinha Music) album was hailed as “jarring, captivating, and ultimately sublime -- one of the top 10 albums of 1999” by Alternative Press, played their debut show.
In the crowd were Lelis and Laroi, whose own dream pop band Closer was gaining a fervent NYC following with their mesmerizing live performances and widely circulated demo recordings. Krieger asked Lelis and Laroi to co-write a song with FEQ for their second album Becoming Transparent (Caipirinha Music). The resulting track, “So Fragile”, was a hauntingly atmospheric exercise melding the sophisticated electronics of FEQ with Closer’s dream pop aesthetic. It became a standout track on FEQ’s sophomore effort, which was praised in the electronic music press as “one of the first truly significant, forward-looking works of the 21st century” (Splendid Magazine, July 2000).
Lelis continued to record and tour with the shimmering pop outfit Mahogany (Darla Records) and contribute vocals to Aarktica (Darla Records), but in the summer of 2002 Krieger, Lelis, and Laroi returned to the studios at Prentis Hall to record what would become early tracks for Lexica’s album Lost & Left To Be Imagined. Lexica’s sound began to gel, taking lessons from the shoegaze bands of the 90’s while fusing them to both classic trip hop and gitchy electronica. Amidst a hint of ambient experimentation, a burst of thick distorted guitars, and a touch of bossanova, Lelis’ singularly evocative vocals unified Lexica into a coherent vision. They even conclude the album with a reinvented version of “Breathe”, an exquisite lost song from the Closer sessions originally recorded in the mid-90s. Lost & Left to be Imagined was a cinematic and evocative experience that offered a sonic expression of nostalgia, of heartbreak, and ultimately, of bliss.
And then – no one heard it. Laroi continued to release a series of albums of beautiful, intimate cover songs under the moniker Soft News (Mother West). But Lexica’s Lost & Left to be Imagined became exactly that – a lost gem, unreleased and almost entirely impossible to find – until now. Lexica created songs that were classic and timeless, and yet they still sound fresh and remarkable upon their Mother West release, almost two decades later.