Lou Rogai is an artist, songwriter, and composer. His voice and vision resonate throughout Lewis & Clarke's signature sound of lush, long-form art-folk compositions. The moniker references the fellowship and correspondence between C.S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke, not the 19th-century explorers. His work has been lauded by major music publications and in heavy rotation on NPR's All Things Considered for over a decade. He has released albums on his own imprint in a fiercely independent manner and performed throughout North America and Europe. He has steadily and quietly established a body of work and garnered a following while exploring his musical path. His music connects with the human condition through themes of birth, growth, aspiration, conflict, and mortality.
Upon his debut EP release, Bright Light (2003), Magnet magazine christened Rogai "a gifted newcomer". The Morning Call praised his 2005 follow-up LP, Bare Bones and Branches, calling it “striking in its authenticity and ability to convey empathy and even inspiration…. Rogai easily soars above so-called ‘acid folk’/’freak folk’ conventions by exhibiting amazing clarity and a sense of spaciousness in his songs.” His sound developed into the fringes of “New Weird America” with the release of Blasts of Holy Birth in 2007. Pitchfork called the LP "Eight tracks of delicate beauty", and the A/V Club stated, "Rogai has a gift for speaking plainly while tonguing poetry, and his meditations on life cycles and pastoral philosophy blossom and collapse with organic grace”.
In 2008, Rogai recorded a sparse piano version of The Cure's "Disintegration" for a charity compilation by Manimal Vinyl that continues to be his most-played track. He released Light Time the following year, with Emmie magazine regarding the EP: "These songs do more than tell stories: they create moods and inspire thought...what sets Lewis & Clarke apart is their ability to flawlessly execute changes in dynamics, adding a new dimension to the narratives of their songs."
Triumvirate was released as a double LP in 2014 and consequently the third installment in a triptych. Continuity is present along with the two preceding releases, both musical theme and ethereal cover art provided again by artist Erika Somogyi. Describing the LP, Huffington Post called it "Informed and elegant...luxuriously textured... gorgeous, and heartbreaking." The Line of Best Fit touted the record as: "Gorgeously crafted and composed, full of wonder...seventy-five minutes of sheer beauty and trauma." Later that year Rogai released two more singles. First, "The Silver Sea" for the music documentary series Shaking Through, highlighting his mission and process. Second, a piano-driven cover version of Duran Duran's "The Seventh Stranger" for a charity benefit.
Rogai continues to create music as an unaffected experience. He is currently at work on a new Lewis & Clarke album, writing instrumental pieces, and producing. He lives and works in Pennsylvania, USA, near a river between two mountains.
New Work / Film Music: www.lourogai.com
"Gorgeous, slow building...the way a gifted author tells stories, revealing details slowly, guiding the narrative along confidently"
"Informed and elegant...luxuriously textured...it is gorgeous, and it is heartbreaking, and it reminds one that grace exists in this life
if we have the dogged strength to finally find it.
"Gorgeously crafted and composed, full of wonder...seventy-five minutes of sheer beauty and trauma"
-The Line Of Best Fit (UK)
"The kind of album that can transfix you, and if it's epic in its delivery, grand in its scope, it is still—like the other Lewis & Clarke records—first and foremost intimate and inviting, a bittersweet space to get lost in along with the players."
"Lewis & Clarke returns with a huge masterpiece; a double LP of extreme beauty, emotion, musicality, and storytelling"
"A clear and honest vision of elevated longform songwriting that's mesmerizing in its grandeur, i
mmersive in its majestic sweep, and yet so neatly contained within its wide expansive."
-All Around Sound
"Melancholic creations are woven through with existential prose, subdued intimate beauty"
-Folk Radio UK
"Exquisitely crafted, orchestrated and performed. The album is lush, warm, melancholic, world-weary, yet often uplifting.
Call it chamber folk, baroque pop, or sweater weather music, the double album is a beauty."
-WXPN The Key
"It's certainly expansive, but it's the individual songs that make Triumvirate feel grand...these songs sound full, and brimming with life."
"We are somehow being guided in a way that opens us to the mystery and wonder of this world, led to see what might be the familiar, as strange.
Even perhaps what's finite as infinite, as the poet Novalis might have suggested"
- Erika Funke WVIA
"Intensely enchanting avant-folk music. At times both serene and ominous, this album is as beautiful as music gets."
-The Swollen Fox
"A modern masterpiece"
-Pittsburgh In Tune
"Lewis & Clarke is a poet, a philosopher, a musician: these forms of expression give depth to his songwriting"
-Son of Marketing
"Highly dynamic...mature and aware...a work of great depth"
"A long, luxurious and atmospheric trip"
"A feature-length exploration of atmosphere and nuance…Slow and measured, delicate but finely wrought, Triumvirate is a welcome return."
"Sumptuous and profound....Lewis & Clarke’s material, more now than ever, does not pay particular attention to demands or trends.
It exists on its own terms and arrives at its own pace."
-Highway 81 Revisited
"A journey into contemplation and musical reflection...pouring over prose like a great storyteller"
"The best folk-tinged indie music over the past decade...an expansive and sonically indulgent collection"
- The Record Dept.
Light Time (2009)
"Lewis & Clarke blew up their pastoral folk sound into long, torn-open and moody soundscapes on 2007's Blasts of Holy Birth, and they have taken that brooding tangled beauty down even darker roads....Light Time shows once again that Lewis & Clarke's quiet sound is an affecting one."
"Lewis & Clarke doesn't play songs as much as unfurl them, slowly letting ribbons of sound billow and cascade. The power, though, is palpable, made even stronger through delicateness, a paradox that is at play not only in the music on Light Time but also in its metaphors for life, loss and renewal.
Hypnotic mountain folk, setting reedy vocals against spare and elegant guitars,
gradually swooning into a near seven-minute piece full of strings and woodsy imagery...songs for getting lost into"
"A reminder that the heart, above all else, is a muscle."
-Donnybrook Writing Academy
"With lyrics that pluck at the heartstrings, and guitar that can be most simply put as solemnly subtle, there's a sense of heaviness that seems to be barely escaping itself...These are songs that embrace their own hopeful anguish, and satisfy our need to feel."
"These songs do more than tell stories: they create moods and inspire thought...what sets Lewis & Clarke apart is their ability to flawlessly execute changes in dynamics, adding a new dimension to the narratives of their songs."
"(Light Time) doesn't just have three noir naturalistic Rogai-penned tracks to worship and adore —
he and his crew cover the Leonard Cohen masterpiece "Chelsea Hotel # 2."
-Philadelphia City Paper
"Haunting, hushed vocals and introspective songs elegantly couched in understated arrangements"
-The Morning Call
Blasts of Holy Birth (2007)
"Its obvious that this album is a keeper...perfectly crafted, well executed, and earnest in its intent...
In aiming to create music that is emotionally pure, Lewis & Clarke has released one of the best of the year."
"Eight tracks of delicate beauty."
"The melodies are exquisite, as delivered by an impressive array of strings, percussion, and Rogai's own direct, unforced vocals...
This is a band that more than deserves its growing acclaim."
"Rogai has a gift for speaking plainly while tonguing poetry, and his meditations on life cycles and pastoral philosophy blossom and collapse with organic grace...Contributions from Man Man, Rachel's and Hella might draw people in to Holy Birth, but Rogai's cloudless crystalline vision will keep them."
-The A/V Club
"A profound work of earthy, orchestrated new-folk, Blasts Of Holy Birth raises the bar for both listeners and players...An expose of grace, beauty, peril, triumph, and the interconnectivity of all things. Meshing gorgeously hushed melodies and plucked guitars with baroque string arrangements and ethereal pulses and surges, Lewis & Clarke has crafted a transcendent work of epic proportions."
"The eight tracks here are protracted and whisper-quiet yet engaging, with a constant tug of sorrow that satisfies..Rogai exhales poignant lyrics and juggles elegant instrumentation with a revolving cast that includes members of Man Man and Rachel's..Fans of Iron & Wine and ilk would be wise to prick up their ears."
"Blasts of Holy Birth is a much quieter affair whose beauty lies in its intricacies...a mystifying and ultimately solid and thrilling album."
"This is psychedelic in a halcyon sense, as moments expand and bring warmth to the listening experience.
Rogai and company play with space here, a feat that yields results that range from warm undertones to grandiose exultation."
-Cleveland Free Times
"Full of gentle drones of bowed cello(courtesy of Rachel's member Eve Miller), ripples of plucked harp strings (by Russell Higbee of Man Man), slow-motion cascades of horns and synths, and existential rhythms of tabla and trap-kit snare, all tied together in patient, sophisticated arrangements that highlight Rogai's spiritually inquisitive lyrics and quietly demonstrative vocals."
"Don't expect to approach Blasts of Holy Birth as a one-hit, catch-and-release affair, as Rogai and his collaborators have culled a set of melodies that achieve a haunting beauty...it is more than a collection of songs...each listen unearths a new layer...
restrained aggression often apparent in classical symphonies but rarely accomplished in a pop music setting."
-Lost At Sea
"Intriguing neo-folk classics that are bundled into meditative rhythms that boast an out-of-body experience...
The title track will haunt your soul for an eternity; this is an album you simply must own."
"An absolutely stunning album."
"A deeply personal record, crafted with a subtle hand that lends to multiple new awakenings with each new listen...Rogai's centerpiece, 'Before it Breaks You,' takes to task combining the many strengths and mysterious hidden mazes of Holy Birth,into a ten-minute epic capable of producing both tears of remembrance and a third-eye vision, should the listener indulge enough in it's multiple folds. "
"The mystical side of (Lewis & Clarke) is heightening...thoughtful, lightly philosophical, exploratory folk with a rustic, natural-world mood."
- Erasing Clouds
"Blasts of Holy Birth is gorgeous. It's superbly articulated and ideally presented with an appropriate production whose highlights are warmth, delicacy, and prettiness...it's not only the mixture of instrumentation and the aplomb with which each instrument's part is in total harmony with the rest; it's the way all these players are presented to the audience, with each sonic character being an element of delicate beauty."
"Kaleidoscopic layering over sophisticated lines, the rosy folk songs within are tasteful, only bordering on sentimental, and graciously free of pretense...reverent, almost hymnal in quality."
- The Aquarian Weekly
"A record of struggle, doubt, and eventual resolution..pretty folk melody heads off into more unusual territory... rhythmic folk guitar patterns pacing a flickering flow of images"
"This is quite clearly a thinking man's album by a thinking man's band, but a thinking man who figures as much with his spirit as he does with his head."
-Donnybrook Writing Academy
"The music and lyrics are gorgeously rustic, spacious, somnolently elegant and entrenched in the woodsy surroundings that inspired them."
-Philadelphia City Paper
Bare Bones and Branches (2005)
"Lewis & Clarke has carved out its own niche thanks to the lush arrangements of its debut"
"moody and careful, resigned and gorgeous. It’s pop at half speed, or it’s country noir, it’s new folk, or maybe we’re calling it slo-core, I’m not sure, but it’s going to drown us in a sort of delicate, well-read, mellow flood. I think it’s a good way to go."
"a sincerely brilliant piece of work...something unique, equal parts alt-country and chamber folk, sophisticated yet rustic."
"A heartfelt, atmospheric album packed with distinct tracks blends guitar finger-picking, soft reverb, organ, piano, and lap steel with bittersweet vocal harmonies."
- Punk Planet
"A whisper of an album, lovely without being precious, moody without being beleaguering. The band's only full-time member, Rogai is sheepish and articulate. He's a mild lyrical eccentric-"The sky is mint green jealousy" -and he knows how not to crowd a song."
- No Depression
"A pure music experience that whispers half-remembered truths to the soul, as Rogai easily soars above so-called "acid folk"/"freak folk" conventions by exhibiting amazing clarity and a sense of spaciousness in his songs... striking in its authenticity and ability to convey empathy and even inspiration. It is gentle and wild, an abundant feast of simple fare that nourishes the heart."
- The Morning Call
"Rogai always finds a quiet place for solace, capturing the smallness of everyday despair with a laid-back balance of precision, warmth and regret."
- Alternative Press
"A shining example of the fact that there is much uncharted territory to explore in this field of music, often-decried of all sounding the same..a blast of fresh air, just like Gastr Del Soul was when I first heard them, just like Richard Buckner was, hell, like Grateful Dead was when I dropped my pre-existing resistance and listened to American Beauty for the first time with open ears"
- Outside Left
"Old tricks are made new again with the delicate touch of Lou Rogai's imagination."
- Tiny Mix Tapes
"Lou Rogai, who records under the name Lewis & Clarke, artfully mixes his multi-layered vocal tracks with finger-picked acoustic guitar, Hammond organ, Rhodes piano, and lap steel."
- Acoustic Guitar World
"Soft guitars and infectious melodies drew me into a trance when this album was playing. It's pure, charming, heartfelt acoustic folk that is soothing from beginning to end."
- Impact Press
"t...reads the territory of Papa M and Iron & Wine very well, and to be on par with such talent should be a hint to the quality found on this album....It’s a well-trod genre, but with acts like Lewis & Clarke still surprising us with such simple, melodic insights, maybe we should all just make room for one more."
"time-friendly, interpretively communicative and complete. It's the little black dress of music when the Stones flash a few too many sequins. It's the violet '69 Jaguar convertible in the wheat field: honest, cute, and terribly desirable."
"an intelligent revelatory light into the heart of life and love."
-Detroit Metro Times
"This group is spot-on...meandering melodies on a spool of reflective vocal lines, and sometimes unorthodox song structures... like an up-tempo visit to Scarborough Fair."
"The best songs on Bare Bones and Branches recall the Stones of Dead Flowers....Or maybe the fagged-out Pavement of Wowee Zowee."
"A worthy addition to the folk music map....Bare Bones And Branches rarely strays.
- Coke Machine Glow
"Highly melodic, richly arranged, and extremely compact - an artistic statement nearly as impressive as it is cohesive."
- Delusions of Adequacy
Bright Light 7" EP (2003)
"A gifted newcomer"
"Performed to the hilt, with sincerity and authenticity...with maturity and enough perspective and respect for the song to never overplay... a mournful slow-burning sound that fills the air. It's a sound that will never tire, never go out of fashion, and hopefully will be delivered in a long-playing format sometime soon."
- Delusions of Adequacy
"Everything about this rural Pennsylvania trio’s debut speaks of an attention to detail and nuance...Honest and direct, yet striking a perfect balance with lyric ambiguity, Rogai appears to be a major young talent-in-the-making. With a new full-length, Bare Bones and Branches, available (albeit only in Belgium) by the time you read this, L & C’s star is in ascent."
- Stereo Type
"Bands don't fill their songs with steel guitar to evoke clown parties, sequined suits or days at the pool...deep, thundering dreams so preferable to the waking life that we're left in confused but earnest apathy...He turns the dust of common words into moving laments, and lassoes a new sort of metaphysical slacker."
"Nice stuff, sort of subdued, but smart and introspective - a bit spooky, too.
Lou Rogai has an easy, comfortable way with the mic, and he's a pretty interesting songwriter...A definite mood record."
- Shredding Paper
"Lewis & Clarke makes no pretentious statements, harbor no ulterior motives and doesn't browbeat at all....
The songs come on with a whisper and have the impact of a bomb."
- Aiding and Abetting