La Luz, Ancient Forest, VCR
May 14 • 8:00 pm• $12 - $14
Los Angeles has often been described as a “dream factory”– both a mecca where dreamers converge to pursue long-held aspirations, and a topography of hallucinogenic contradictions: enchanting tangerine sunsets diffused by smog, crystal-clutching spiritualists mingling with deep-pocketed narcissists, rows of scenic palms competing with garish billboards for commuters’ attention. It was against this backdrop that the members of La Luz – singer/guitarist Shana Cleveland, drummer Marian Li Pino, keyboardist Alice Sandahl and bassist Lena Simon – conceived of Floating Features, the band’s third studio album. References to dreams abound on Floating Features. “Loose Teeth” catalyzes nightmare fuel into a propulsive, intentionally disorienting collision of honeyed harmonies and Takeshi Terauchi-esque jetstreams of distorted surf guitar. “Mean Dream” mines dreamstate imagery, and the lyrics and melody for “Walking Into the Sun” actually came to Cleveland during a particularly vivid night of sleep. Looming over the album’s coterie of surreal figures (gargantuan cicadas, a monstrous “Creature”, The Sun King, aliens, the titular “Lonely Dozer”) is the magnificent “Greed Machine”, a skulking, insatiable engine of consumption – Nathanael West’s “business of dreams” fearsomely manifested. To bring these visions to life, La Luz pivoted from the DIY trailer-park brio of It’s Alive and the gritted-up urgency of Weirdo Shrine toward lush, hi-fidelity production value. Li Pino’s drums are more thunderously muscular, Simon’s basslines more robust-yet-agile, Sandahl’s organ melodies more complementary, Cleveland’s layers of guitar more versatile, or the group’s trademark harmonies more bewitching and rapturous. For every one of Floating Features’ seismic crescendos, there are just as many small, evocative details coloring its somnambulist soundscape. Floating Features’ Leone-on-LSD vibes finds the L.A. band at the height of their powers–golden rebels in a golden dream.