Pretentious, philosophic and peculiar are only a few words to describe the musical experience that is Lansing-Dreiden. With two full-length albums behind it and an array of national accolades, this pseudo-band truly defines “arts for arts sake.” Exploring themes of division and duality, its familiar yet wildly unrecognizable sound is all about taking listeners down the road less traveled.
Its creative genesis began in 2000, amidst Miami palm trees and banana hammocks. After shifting band headquarters to New York City, the group was able to build a following with its drawings, collages, music, sculpture and video projects. In addition to denying the press any interviews, the Lansing-Dreiden team of mysterious producers and writers refuse to play live music. Instead, this self-proclaimed sect hires a band to play its music in a number of venues. Known as LD Section, these performers have played to sold-out crowds nationwide.
Perhaps as puzzling as deciphering the band’s collective musical identity is trying to fit the group into some sort of artistic genre. While Lansing-Dreiden’s catalog seems utterly nondescript, a pattern eventually gives way to reveal a maze of sound, animation and fantastical imagery. Similar to an art exhibit, a connection is formed between the spectator and the subject. The poetic nature of its lyrics works well with the dreamy, two-dimensional world that is depicted in the majority of their more visual projects.
In one of LD’s most acclaimed pieces, Quiet Earth, the audience is taken on an adventure whereby it must decide where two-dimensional nature ends and reality begins. In the piece – accompanied by jazzy instrumentals – two characters extend their hands towards one another and appear to disintegrate into smooth lines. This recurring theme of linearity is evident in their hypnotic animation, as well as their music.
In 2002, LD decided to take their eclectic skills a step further by distributing a free multimedia publication, entitled Death Notice. Distributed from Los Angeles to Madrid, this rather creepy collection of “playful” prose is guided by descriptive death scenarios and elegiac piano accompaniments. Once again, LD used music as a blueprint to aid in the construction of story telling.
However, LD’s most morbid project took shape in the form of a clown/mime hybrid of sorts (Artsweek prefers the term “clime.”) Its project, LD Ambassador, shows a mime with a black clown nose visiting a Miami gallery opening. In this real-life video segment, visitors to the gallery look on in amusement, dismay and fear as the ambassador is filmed laughing uncontrollably. This demonic gesture – which evokes memories of Stephen King’s “IT” – is apt at conveying the music’s demonic assembly.
Fortunately, the group’s later work is far less sinister and in fact, quite earthy and serene. In 2003, the group released A Section Beam and An Effect of the Night. Both short videos worked to redefine the music video format, as LD’s music enhanced the already beautifully directed, naturalistic images. There is no dramatic storyline or cute lead singer. It is merely art forming a relationship to the viewer’s own emotions.
Like Fischerspooner, or any other obscure theatrical collective, LD’s music is living and breathing creativity. Music is its harlot, often becoming enslaved to the all-powerful pimp that is art. Finally, the world of music has found its Roxanne.
LD Section will grace the Troubadour on June 24. Make sure to check out its new album, The Dividing Island, which is now available on Kemado records.