The new album from Dutch indie band Labasheeda floats through a multitude of styles but always retains this feeling of ambition and experimentalism. As such, its a minor triumph.
Dutch three piece Labasheeda, aka Saskia van der Giessen (vocals, guitar, violin) Arne Wolfswinkel (guitar) and Aletta Verwoerd (drums) make this sort of experimental, unsettling music, that is often mind boggling with its constant changes of direction, often mid song. Over the years they’ve released a handful of increasingly well received records. Their latest, Changing lights – out right now on the Presto Chango label, only enhances that reputation.
Changing Lights is a more visceral record than many of their predecessors, and finds der Glassen at her pleading, pulsating best, leading the group into edgier and more agitated waters than they’ve sailed before. At the root of it all is this often engaging and melodic indie pop, but more often than not, its buried withing elements of grunge, post-punk and willful experimentation.
The album opens with its experimental features fully explored in Spiral Song, der Glassen often pleading, and at odds with the accompaniment, dressed up in feedback and these slightly wonky guitar sounds, but given this sense of woody (no joke) realism by the Cello part, making itself heard in the mix on the changes between verses.
From there though, melody becomes the name of the game, and despite similar forays into the dark and pulsating territories of post punk and shoegaze, My Instincts, (in particular) Head and On the Beach are all blessed with moments of beauty, interest and ambition. But, as if to counter our expectations of this as being a pop record, follow on Wasteland reverts back to this constantly evolving, twisting post-punk.
Elsewhere, the albums highlights come in the shape of the alt-folk, Throwing Muses-esque Circles, and the downbeat beauty of the instrumental Leave of Absense, where the violin aches and pleads all over this downbeat instrumental. The agit pop of Fifty-Nine also has its thrilling moments as it drives on, but the overall feeling is one of anticipation to the listener. It almost literally could be anything next.
And there’s the thing. In trying to predict a future for Labasheeda, your guess is quite literally as good as mine.