LENGTH: 2,887 words
SECTION: Artist of the Day
HEADLINE: Lost & Found: Aimee Man
BYLINE: Larry Flick
'Lost' & Found: Aimee Mann
Aimee Mann is not quite the depressed, tortured artist that her recordings might indicate her to be. "It's a fair assumption, I suppose," she says with a smile. "I do write a fair amount of dark material."
But Mann notes that such material is not born out of fits of heavy emotion. In fact, she finds it easier to write when she's content. "Depression is a state of suppression for me," she says. "It's harder to effectively sort through emotions and thoughts in that state. You have to be on the other end of it, feeling content and more clear."
To that end, the songs that comprise "Lost in Space" (SuperEgo, due Aug. 27) were assembled during the past year-and-a-half. "It was a good way to work," she says. "We'd get a few songs together, then we'd go out and do some shows, and then we'd return to the studio and work on some more new songs. It made for a nice creative rhythm. There was no need to rush around and worry about not having enough songs for the album by the time we wanted to release something."
The resulting collection shows Mann in top form -- as both a performer and tunesmith. Such tracks as the acoustic-based "Guys Like Me" and first single "Humpty Dumpty," with its clever, deceptively simple wordplay, are familiar without feeling redundant. Meanwhile, "High on Sunday 51" and "Real Bad News" show the artist stretching into more challenging, experimental territory, with sharp-edged, often raw lyrics and instrumentation that occasionally dabbles in atmospheric ambient-pop.
Perhaps most striking about "Lost in Space" is that it unfolds as a thorough, cohesive piece of work. Every song is tightly linked, serving a purpose in bringing the album to a satisfying conclusion. Eliminate any one track, and the set suffers.
"This was intended to be an album for people who enjoy full-length albums of serious songs," says Michael Hausman, Mann's manager and co-founder with the artist of SuperEgo Records. "We're committed to the idea that there are still a lot of people out there who are interested in good, full-length albums."
A limited-edition "Lost in Space" package will include a bonus CD of three songs. It will be offered initially to those who pre-order the CD and on a first-come basis in shops after its release. The album's Digipak will boast a 40-page booklet filled with hand-painted illustrations that complement each song. Mann commissioned graphic novelist Seth to concoct the visuals.
In addition, fans will be able to take advantage of the Internet to offer the entire collection of songs available for listening on Mann's Web site (aimeemann.com) via streaming technology. The set is tentatively scheduled to go online July 15.
It's a bold move, which pleases Mann. "Any new avenue of exposing music is worth exploring," she says. "When you can't depend on radio to play your music, it's important to have other options."
Ultimately, Mann is her own best asset when it comes to selling her music. With a series of European shows just ending, she is plotting a new tour that most likely will begin in October and run through the end of 2002. A September spree of TV appearances are also being set up.
Although she admits that Lost in Space is driven by a series of dark-hued compositions, Mann says that she didn't intend to underline the set with a specific tone or stylistic direction. "It really is just a matter of writing what comes naturally," says the artist. "I wouldn't describe myself as a writer who is overly premeditated."