Single: 3tho – Loam (2241)

3tho is the project of Philadelphia residing home-recorder Ethan Javage and Loam (2241), their latest single, is a decidedly odd 2 minutes. 

The sub-bassy waver that hums and vibrates beneath this curious little thing made me feel a little disorientated upon first listen – like some sort of sonic kinetosis. It feels like another song being played at the same time, like photographic film given a second outing through that now long-forgotten camera. This ‘ghost in the holiday photo’ aesthetic was initially a disturbing starting point but its shadow somehow dissipates as this song finds its disjointed but pleasing place. 

It’s only 2 minutes long but it holds real beauty in its lo-fi brevity- that voice an emotive thing capable of sustained and plaintive intonations and memorable melodies. The title is curiously enigmatic too – Loam (2241) –  I have absolutely no idea what it could be referring to. The number, according to internet searches, refers to the ‘angel number’ 2241 reminding you that you are a powerful creator, and that the universe is always working in your favour. Heavy stuff! Maybe I need this number in my life. But why Loam? The lyrics hint at something or someone, “bring(ing) me back to earth…” which could be its mycorrhizal, titular purpose. But I’m not certain…What the hell is going on here? What does it all really mean? It confounds and intrigues.

It makes sense that this was recorded in various bedrooms over various years- it feels as fractured as this peripatetic existence would suggest. The guitars offer calm though – lilting and filled with glissando vibrations. There’s an almost Flaming Lips-esque quality to the high-pitched, emoting vocals but this is no pop-psyche sentiment – the lyrics feel more insular and desperate somehow. The smoky haze in its production adds to this sense of the deeply personal, the melody capable of heavy-lifting despite its fleeting presence. 

It’s an intriguing little artefact by an artist entirely new to me but well worth listening to never-the-less. 

Written by M. Welsh (Misophone)