Land of Blood and Sunshine
Animal Collective, Liars, Surfer Blood
Listening to lo-fi indie rockers Land of Blood and Sunshine (LoBaS) on headphones makes me want to board a bus for an Iowan town I’ve never heard of and track down the lads behind the tunes. I imagine that--after they recovered from their initial shock--we’d hop in the band van and drive around Marshalltown’s backstreets and cornfields, listening to a mixtape of their favorite tunes as they point out local landmarks and pass around a bottle of whatever it is young Iowans imbibe.
Like its name, which implies a comingling of two seemingly disparate elements, LoBaS is all about dichotomy: marrying different forces to create a unified whole. The most noticeable pairing is the vocals. Virtually every track combines two lead tracks: one falsetto, and a second that is deeper and more laidback. The mix adds a level of tension to a song like “Demon, Listen,” with the lower tones acting as an anchor to the raw-nerve high notes. Without the balanced attack, the vocals might otherwise end up in a syllabic trainwreck. And while the effect can be disquieting and disorienting at times, it’s never boring.
Then there is the music itself, which pairs a distorted, psychedelic vibe with true pop sensibilities. LoBaS songs can be ramshackle affairs: hazy, noisy creations propelled by perhaps the group’s biggest strength: drums. Underpinning each composition is a river of heavily percussive—almost tribal--drumming. The beats simultaneously give the tunes depth and dimension, and often set the tone for what’s to come next. This frees up a lot of space for other, lighter sounds, allowing near folk-like moments to coexist with the rhythmic cavalcade.
Lastly, there is the issue of technology: some of the group’s sounds are committed to a trusty old analog 4-track machine, while others are sent straight to computer. This hybrid approach is melds the best of both worlds, and is key to LoBas’ textured compositions. LoBaS’s most recent release is Phlegm Realm, a follow-up to two weirdly wonderful creations: Into the Mystery and the band’s off-kilter debut, Magick Carcass Ride.