Autumn Sounds is a small, cassette based indie label based out of Pittsburgh, PA. Stephen Matejka, founder of AS, began the experimental label doing limited runs of releases on recycled cassettes for his own musical projects and those of his close friends. It has since grown into something of a movement, with multiple releases, a lineup of great artists and even their very own Patreon page, where $10 patrons can receive a unique cassette release of new music bi-monthly.
The label’s most recent endeavor is the upcoming Tribute to Lain compilation. The concept is simple – any artist can contribute new music that is influenced directly by the anime Serial Experiments Lain. Having never heard of the show, never contributing to a compilation before, and being immediately fascinated by the concept, I dived right in.
Serial Experiments Lain is one of the more bizarre shows I’ve seen in a long time (if you are interested in watching and possibly contributing, here’s a YouTube playlist consisting of all 13 episodes with the original Japanese audio and English subs). It has that dark ambiance reminiscent of the films of David Lynch (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet) with heavy cyberpunk and philosophical thematic elements.
The show follows our hero, Lain Iwakura, a middle school girl who begins emailing a fellow classmate that recently committed suicide. Her new pen pal explains that she is not actually dead, but living in the cyber reality the show calls the Wired (“a global communications network which is similar to the Internet”). Lain’s world is turned upside down as a chain of surreal and enigmatic events begin to take place, causing her to question her perceptions of reality.
This barely scratches the surface of the layers upon layers of subtle themes that make up the show. It’s a mind-fuck, to say the least, that at times leaves you lost but absolutely comes together in the end. While it’s deep themes and slow burn style may not be for everyone, it definitely rewards viewers, challenging their reality, giving you so much to think about and analyze. This is truly what makes Autumn Sound’s compilation idea so much fun – there is so much to work with here. And with multiple contributions with varying views and perspectives on the shows many themes, this compilation could possibly end up being a very interesting collection of work.
Stephen was nice enough to let me pick his brain about the project and what he personally found captivating about the series.
DEAD LANGUAGE: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions! This is such a fun and interesting idea for a comp. what about Serial Experiment Lain inspired you to take on such a project?
STEPHEN MATEJKA: THANK YOU! A friend of mine from Japan runs a label called “Lost Frog Productions” and they’ve done a few tribute compilations to the show “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and I was fortunate enough to get a track on the most recent one. I thought the idea was cool, and wanted to do a tribute to a lesser known and underrated anime. (Although NGE is my favorite anime of all time).
DL: I dived into SE Lain and it’s a pretty complex and trippy show. What are some of the themes that resonated with you most?
SM: One of the most prevalent themes that has really resonated with me is the consistent theme of loneliness, depression, and mental illness in the show. Lain is always around others and her family, yet feels entirely invisible and disassociated from the world. I feel that many people in the world experience this sort of disconnect, especially in Japan (引きこもり). Lain herself is a very sympathetic character and I feel that many can relate to her. I also particularly enjoy these kinds of shows that were made in the 90s/2000s that exist in their own period, yet contain futuristic sci-fi elements.
DL: Do you have a favorite episode? And why?
SM: It’s actually been a bit since I watched the show in full, but episode 9 (PROTOCOL) is really good. I can’t say much without spoiling, but it’s a real mind roaster. Also, it might be cliche but the last episode is amazing.
DL: Will the comp be a cassette release? Or just digital?
SM: My plan right now is to have a digital version, as well as a cassette version, but limit it to 10 copies or so. That might change and if there’s a demand; I may do a repress or something like that, but for now it’ll be a small edition of tapes.
DL: Is this Autumn Sounds’ first comp? Are you planning similar projects in the future?
SM: This will actually be AS’ second comp. The first, “Tribute to the Great Pumpkin”, was a Halloween themed compilation. I’m also kicking around the idea of doing another compilation after this one. I don’t want to give away too much but it’ll be a collection of cover songs of a cult/meme icon personality’s music. Their initials are CWC. If you know, you know. Doing comps is really fun and I hope I get to do many more.
For more information and updates be sure to check out their official website over at theautumnsounds.com. Also LIKE Autumn Sounds on Facebook, follow on Bandcamp, and consider supporting them on Patreon. Submissions for the compilation are due June 30th and can be sent over to Stephen’s email – firstname.lastname@example.org