My Favorite False Memory
Skylight Syndrome - 2021
My Favorite False Memory is the best kind of project - one born out of simple curiosity. How does the brain stop working? How can that story be told without words?

My Favorite False Memory is a concept album about melting realities, labyrinthine false memories, and collapsing lucid dreams, featuring meticulously crafted layered melodies, classic dreampunk vaporwave elements, and a sixteen minute odyssey of a title track.

This is the product of over a year of production. A love letter to contemporary classical and dreampunk, this album captures several stories of psychedelic warpings in musical form. Both fascinating and listenable, My Favorite False Memory is the perfect album for any Nils Frahm or Boards of Canada fan.

In addition to creating My Favorite False Memory, I also created a nine-part series called Statues where each piece corresponds to a song on the album, as well as an artbook for the album. Statues uses warped 3D scans of statues to reflect the themes of mental degradation explored in False Memory, playing with the medium of 3D art to great effect.

You can listen and download the album below on Bandcamp (where you'll get bonus tracks and the artbook) and on all streaming services.
In most cases, memories are sanctuaries. They’re still, safe, places where events can be relived and processed over and over again. But what if memories weren’t sanctuaries? What if they were under attack, twisting and shifting to something’s desire? This is the idea that the My Favorite False Memory cover comes from.

Separating the unconscious and conscious state is an essential foundation of life: we understand that actions in the unconscious state can’t affect “real life”. So what if one doesn’t know where “real life” is? What if something bends that line until it breaks?
The space the Subject inhabits is based on several posts to the /r/LiminalReality subreddit, a collection of “places or states of being in which you feel different, off, or uncomfortable,” often due to the lack of the life one would expect to be there. Here, the “liminality” comes from that it doesn’t make sense for a sunny skylit room to simply be bare. Why go to the trouble of building an expansive vista, only to build an impassible wall in the middle? Why use tile here? It’s a room that doesn’t make sense in our reality; one relegated to the realm of dreams.

The Subject was designed to be the alarm bell for this altered reality. A figure completely alien and uncanny, the Subject is a symbol for the disruption of memories that this album is centered on. The album still functions whether you look at it as a collection of stories about brain malfunctions or as a single story of Subject contacts -- and so does the cover.

On the technical side, the Subject statue was made by taking some statue 3D scan data into Blender’s sculpting toolset and distorting it until the uncanny valley kicked in. Then, I made a sunny building that looked “liminal”, because it didn’t make sense to me that the Subject, who operates in dreams, would solely exist at night. The light was an essential element. Concrete was chosen because it’s such a brittle material, it’s hard to even imagine it ever moving.
"Tree" - Statue 1, accompanying "Come In, Comet"
For this Statue, I wanted to reflect the feeling of the melting reality. The tree’s leaves are a neon red, the building in the background is an opaque wireframe, the subject is blacked out, and up close, the sand swirls in unnatural patterns. In the same way Comet acts as an intro to False Memory, “Tree” acts as an intro to the statues series. It introduces the concept and techniques you’ll see developed later.
"Dancer" - Statue 2, accompanying "The Moon and its Star"
Dancer is based on the idea of form. While the central subject is distorted, it’s almost beautiful in a way. The low-tension color scheme and even lighting make the unfamiliar form unimposing. However, the shadow strips this away. It’s human, but definitely not. The shadow is borderline menacing. Just like the song, this Statue highlights layers.
"Frost" - Statue 3, accompanying "Liminal Frost"
Visually, Frost was influenced by Magritte’s Empire of Light, which plays with contrasting lightings. Here, the bright sun sky establishes a cloudless sunny day, but the lighting on the forest and subject is a dark, blue-tinted night. This contrast forces a viewer to decide which one to trust more, but also lends itself to very naturally expressing the logline behind Liminal Frost.
"Hand" - Statue 4, accompanying "Moving On"
Everyone has seen the “hand on glass” trope a thousand times, so putting a spin on it through the stretched arm was my way of changing it up. The pose here is a conflict between the traditional “death” hand on glass, where the hand slowly creeps down as a character dies, and the more contemporary “goodbye” hand on glass. It isn’t forced or, as far as a viewer can see, negative, so it’s left to a viewer’s view on it. The glow was a clever way to avoid needing interior lighting, saving render time while making it dreamlike.
"Shade" - Statue 5, accompanying "Automnesilepsy"
Heavily influenced by (and partially stolen from) Ivan Seal’s cover for Patience (After Sebald), Shade depicts a dream’s interpretation of a repressed memory. The streaks on the glass imply this cover has been tried to be removed, unsuccessfully. The orange grass separates this from reality, the hands symbolize connection, and the overall color scheme is high contrast and low-tension.
"Monk" - Statue 6, accompanying "I'm Not Real"
Monk started as an experiment in simulating textured objects as cloth. Doing so is just one of the ways 3D software can create a surreal atmosphere, so Monk grew out of creating walls that ripple like cloth. The central Statue is the origin of a strong wind force, rippling and lifting the walls to expose a red light from outside. These walls were then sculpted a bit more with Blender’s cloth brushes to increase detail.
"Glass" - Statue 7, accompanying "My Favorite False Memory"
Loosely based on Ivan Seal’s cover for Persistent repetition of phrases, Glass poses the question of whether this is a window or a mirror. Is the viewer looking at a reflection? If so, the viewer is invisible and nonexistent. Or are they looking at a window? If so, they are blocked off. My Favorite False Memory plays on the idea of being unable to distinguish dream from reality; either way you look at this Statue, it isn’t clear what version of events is accurate. And in either case, the effect is the same: powerlessness.
"Philosopher" - Statue 8, accompanying "After Fire Comes Ash" - Lux Undergraduate Creative Review's "Best in Art" 2021
This Statue depicts the subject at the end of After Fire, utterly lost what they view as an alien world. The overhead lighting is notable for being invisible, implying the world the subject sees isn’t the one he’s physically in. The thin twisting trees are unlike most trees on Earth, especially at that scale. This Statue shows an utterly lost and defeated man, resigned to his fate without knowing how it happened.
"Brutalist" - Statue 9, accompanying "Neverend"
As the last Statue in the series, I thought it was important to establish whether False Memory was a tragedy or a drama. Neverend establishes it isn’t that simple. The pose and color scheme isn’t that of a tragedy, but it isn’t exactly upbeat either. Just as the song can be either a happy ending or a bad one, Brutalist can be either as well.
Post Scriptum
Thanks for reading, thanks for listening. Thanks for everything!

Here's to many more,
-Elias Hardt

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