Review ·

Lansing-Dreiden is a New York City (via Miami) collective once shrouded in mystery and namelessness but now shrouded in befuddlement. We still know very little about the band members, but what are we to make of a group whose stated ambition boldly forays into music, literature, art and multimedia? Is this just a syndicate of boy wonders with too much time on their hands and a flair for the grandiose and self-indulgent? Behind the pretense of this self-proclaimed "multimedia company," there must remain an idea inspiring these artists to go to such lengths to remain somewhat anonymous and so ardently pursue expression through various mediums. But after browsing through the artwork, watching the videos, leafing through the literary journal, and listening to The Dividing Island, I'm not left with much more than I started with in terms of conclusions. The "company" is dedicated to identifying a line (a vague one) and discerning the two opposing sides. This is all wonderful, grand and philosophical, except that in the end, what the band members are trying to say isn't really worth saying at all.


Normally, I wouldn't let myself get so caught up in the presentation, but the members of Lansing-Dreiden willingly promote themselves as a company, not as a band intending to create meaningful music. Instead, they hatch a grandiose and abstract concept and use a smattering of media to portray this cloudy, undeveloped idea. It only takes a cynic to see plainly what the band members should have been aware of since their band's inception: It's pretty damn hard to maintain artistic creativity and originality while staying true to your mission through no less than four different mediums.


As far as the music goes, at worst the band sounds like the opener for the opener for the Cure circa 1989. At best it is the amalgamation of the Who and New Order on vocal harmony overdrive. What the players do well is humanize and romanticize feelings of isolation and confusion through mechanical drumming, majestic keyboards and passionate vocals. When they are able to capture and not shroud their unbridled enthusiasm and passion, their collective guard seems to break down, allowing for a true moment of connection between artist and listener. This is best displayed on the album's title track. The number metamorphoses from a string-driven chant to a spazzed-out, urgent rocker in ten seconds. The song seems to define the core idea of the album (and the band): identification and interpretation of a binary. But what this binary refers to and what it means to the band members is not clear. In the song, they seem unable to determine which direction defines their sound.


Hence, the conundrum that is Lansing-Dreiden. In a company that is a smorgasbord of different things, it's easy to lose focus of the one idea worth grasping.


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