Landshapes | Rambutan
by Matt Yau
Names…a proper noun that gives us identity. A reference point that provides us with presupposed conceptions before we’ve even realised the actuality beyond the name. In practical terms, these labels merely serve as just that; labels. But often, its significance is not to be overlooked. Writers choose their words carefully and painters tirelessly mull over potential titles to go with the colour. Lulu and The Lampshades may not have expended countless laborious hours over their appellation but a mistake at a French gig spelled their name; Landshapes. Sharper, punchier and carries imagery that’s reflective of their twinkling avant-garde sound. It works too. Do you remember Lulu and The Lampshades? Perhaps vaguely? But Landshapes lodges in with the kind of force that sculpted mountains from the earth.
It seems ironic then that a band that is difficult to categorise has seemingly garnered extra notoriety by changing to a more memorable and poetic name. But seeing as we’ve come to this impasse, let’s just say it’s psych-folk with an alt-rock edge. What’s more important though is how that sound is crafted.
The chilling ‘Racehorse’ is bathed in moody tones and earthy drums setting the scene for a visceral album. But if you begun drifting away into the ethereal soundscapes then ‘In Limbo’ places you on more aggressive terrain with its alt-rock edge. It’s a reflection of their ability to shift like tectonic plates. Yet beneath the geological textures lies a grumbling bed of lucid lyrics.
In ‘Threads’ you’re greeted by a psychedelic dream punctuated by sharp guitars and woozy vocals as Luisa sings “Dark eyes on a stare/They hid to creep right by you.” The track swells into one of the most atmospheric on the album billowing with shadowy zeal. It also signals a run of tunes that do their utmost in stealing your attention. Surf-pop guitars with a dash of Landshapes psychedelia direct the following track ‘Blue Tack’. But ‘Impasse’… Definitely one of the highlights of the album; there isn’t a cul-de-sac in sight. It’s full of aural avenues for your weary soul to wander down like some kind of musical bazaar. It represents one of the more vibrant songs on Rambutan and the lyrics weave wonderful strokes of imagery: “In the space between that lies between us/I saw fireworks and leaves/In a whirlwind of impassable territory.”
But the whimsical sounds don’t end there. ‘Demons’ is introduced with a sonic tone that closely resembles the beginning of a kaleidoscopic Disney scene. It’s scattered with instruments that dash in and out at will giving it splashes of colour; a compositional trait that defines the sound of Landshapes. It makes repeated listens of the album both intriguing and satisfying as you find hidden layers you may have missed before.
Some albums fade away towards the end but Landshapes decided to place some of their more complete tracks in the tail-order. Chief among them is ‘Insomniac’s Club’, a soundtrack for the restless among us: “This used to be so easy for me/Slipped to dreams seamlessly/Until you stole my sleep from me”. Despite the lyrics, it sounds more like a celebration of the night; like some kind of secret underground party while the peaceful ones sleep. It’s even cursed those involved with the track into insomnia.
Beyond the dynamic compositions, the tracks of Rambutan are strung together by glistening melodies while Luisa’s vocals dictate them like a masterful puppeteer. It produces a record that delights those after an accessible resonance whilst captivating those craving for avant-garde quirks – a deadly combo indeed. This visceral album with its colourful palette invites you to drift through textured soundscapes that morph at will. So we come back to our original point: are names really that important? Perhaps, for first impressions, but it’s still the same delectable crackle being made.
Rambutan is released on June 17 via Bella Union