I know that I’ve written quite a bit concerning the struggles I’ve had to reconcile with the music of ultra-obtuse art collective Lansing-Dreiden — in fact, I’ve probably written more than I should. If anything, doing so has likely led me to fall into some uber-conceptual trap/artistic scheme cooked up by the outfit.
And as important as attempts, however puny they might be, at deeper criticism and whatnot might be, does it matter in the end if the music just does “it” for you, if it scratches that secret itch in your soul, gets your booty moving, makes you shake your head in awe/surprise/wonder, and so on?
I ask, because for all of their annoying artistic manifestos, Lansing-Dreiden’s mercurial music continues to do that. Their latest, the free-for-the-downloading Tri EP (visit their website), offers up three all-too-short tracks that show off Lansing-Dreiden’s music in all of its glorious and maddening facets.
The title track kicks things off with a guitar to the teeth, a spazzy metalcore breakdown in the finest tradition of Spitfire or The Fall of Troy. It’s silly and easily dismissible, the sort of thing you imagine the band tossing off in just a few minutes while hanging out around the studio one night.
“A Suggested Arrangement,” though, occupies the opposite end of the spectrum, a dreamy, nostalgic trip full of spectral synths, yearning vocals, and some of the more seemingly sentimental — though still surreal — lyrics in the band’s catalog:
Lay on your side, aiming your nose at the ceiling
Leaving your arms to a suggested arrangement
We have joined to rid our heads
Of the thoughts and fears
As we enter reflections
Unearthing an inner healing
Finally, Lansing-Dreiden’s love for ’80s-influenced synth-pop — which is where they truly shine — surfaces in “I Disappear.” Funky guitars and faux slap-bass sidle up next to synth pads and keyboard melodies so smooth and clean, they sound like they’re cut from the finest glass. The track toes the line between many extremes — dancy and atmospheric, sensual and sterile, cheesy rip-off and sincere homage, silly and profound — and does so with quite a bit of grace… like so much of Lansing-Dreiden’s music.
It can be maddening, sure, but that inimitable sense of balance is ultimately why I keep coming back to the group and their music in spite of all the cryptic, eye roll-inducing artsy-fartsiness.