New York City multi-media collective Lansing Dreiden is a diverse group, responsible for a multitude of visual audible and written works. According to the group’s website “all Lansing-Dreiden projects are fragmentary, mere stones in a path whose end lies in a space where the very definition of `path’ paths.” It’s no understatement, then, to say that their new album, The Dividing Island, is one of the strangest sounding records I’ve ever heard. It largely recalls fairly commercial material, but the molding of influences, and schizophrenic, 1980s karaoke lounge production make for a listen quite unlike most others.
The opening title track makes like an early King Kong movie soundtrack mixing with Neutral Milk Hotel, before exploding into a guitar hook reminiscent of turn of the ’70s freedom rockers like, uh, Free. “Cement to Stone” is a bizarre mixture of Wishbone Ash, Screamadelica, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. “A Line You Can Cross” unsettles like New Order by way of Duran Duran and Bauhaus…lyrically promising that “you can’t untangle.” “One for all” cribs from Wham!, Bill Withers and Spiritualized…seriously. By “Two Extremes” we’re back into synthetic territory, but it’s the sound of Junior Boys and Electronic in real-time cosmetics parlor TV. “Promise of the Park” opens like “Thriller,” but continues like Low-Life. “Our Next Breath” nods to the Who’s “Pinball Wizard” and “Going Mobile”; “Our Hour” to Depeche Mode and The Cult. The final “Dethroning the Optimyth” almost wonders into prog-metal territory.
What sounds like a rather innocuous if slightly disparate list of comparisons is actually quite subversive. Often vocals and instruments sound disembodied and luminous, like a hangover in church. One of what they’re having? I think I’ll pass…but they’re still right to try.
Bill Withers- Greatest Hits
The Who- Who’s Next