In this series, Selections, we invite DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their Bandcamp collections. This week, Brooklyn’s L’Rain spotlights a spectrum of haunting and healing experimental music
On her second album, ‘Fatigue’, Brooklyn experimental artist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist L’Rain (aka Taja Cheek) balances intimacy with abstraction. A release that explores the complex nature of change and the “simultaneity of human emotions'', its 14 tracks take in fragments of avant-garde pop, neo-soul, psychedelic and ambient music, alt-rock and more; she stitches these styles together with carefully placed field recordings and tactile sound collage. Journeying along this album feels rousing and vivid, and its intricate detours only add to the experience.
At points, L’Rain’s vocals appear up close like an internal monologue, while at others they are anthemic. She is frequently accompanied by a cast of collaborators, who bring a sense of collectivism to the album’s themes, which feel at once deeply personal, and profoundly universal. ‘Fatigue’ is comfortably one of the most striking albums of 2021; its intricately woven tapestry of sounds ensures that, with each listen, it reveals something new.
A similar sense of variety comes into play in L’Rain’s Selections, in which she spotlights some of her recent favourites, spanning experimental music at either side of the spectrum: organic and electronic, healing and haunting. From the meditative sound bath of A Space For Sound and the otherworldly guitars of Amirtha Kidambi and Matteo Liberatore, to Semiratruth’s lunar hip-hop, dreamcrusher's cathartic distortion and Space Afrika’s visionary ambience, there’s so much to explore in these choices, with each release adding further depth to understanding of L’Rain’s own artistic output.
Dig into L’Rain’s Selections below, and listen to (and buy) ‘Fatigue’ here.
“As a part of my performance ritual when I first step on stage, I use an anti-anxiety oil Rena Anakwe (A Space For Sound) made for me, and during the height of the pandemic in New York, Rena performed weekly sound baths lived streamed on Instagram. This record gives me very visceral memories of these healing elements of her performances and practice as a whole that I’ve had the immense pleasure of witnessing up close over the past few years.”
“Not-quite electronic and not-quite acoustic, guitars that sound like something other, and a voice that stretches limits. Amirtha and Matteo find warmth and surprise in a beautiful liminal space.”
“A haunting, spinning opus that feels like it uses every inch of the saxophone and every cubic millimeter of breath. A reminder to keep practicing circular breathing…”
“One of the latest from a noise legend I will love and stan until the end of my days.”
“I’m feeling entranced by this record and still trying to wrap my brain around it. The diversity of sounds and rhythms is so vast, but still seems like it’s of a singular world.”
“I met Nick on Facebook a million years ago because a friend tagged me in a post where he was looking for someone to join his band. We chatted about music we liked and I immediately knew I wanted to be in his orbit for as long as possible. This solo project is one of the most beautiful I’ve heard from him yet (and that’s saying a lot): equal parts earnest and grand.”
“Rachika Nayar might just be the guitar queen we need but don’t deserve!”
“The first track from producer / rapper Semiratruth reminds me of the latest Low albums in a way; I have so much respect for musicians that aren’t afraid to twist their music into near oblivion. The first track is straight up surprising, and the title track especially gets my heart racing.”
“I can’t stop listening to this record. Seeing Space Afrika perform at Club to Club in Turin, Italy really gave the record yet another layer of depth. It’s been incredible to re-listen with the live show in mind.”
“The liner notes really get at the core of Wendy’s humor and badassery: ‘A nice performance note: when I performed the first track, my finger started to bleed.’ The album was recorded at Firehouse12, a venue I used to love visiting in college. Also where I first saw Wadada Leo Smith for the first time.”