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Don’t “Cramp” LACHANE’s Craft


What makes us anxious about technology is, on some level, our lack of understanding. Apple product design is meant to be comforting due to how it hides the information they deem we do not need, and instead give us flat surfaces, smooth, curved lines, and soft edges. Websites feel broken if we can see behind the user interface. Ignorance is bliss.

Popular electronic music often works similarly. You’re separated from the way the music is produced. You are meant to fall into the producer’s fantasy world without having to think about its architecture. The effect is one of transportation: the composer either builds a new sonic space to explore or evokes one that you are familiar and comfortable with.

LACHANE, a duo comprised of Melissa Cha and Ryan Garl, are not interested in comfort. On “Cramp,” the opening track of their upcoming self-titled album, they aren’t even interested in discomfort. Instead of using technology to send you back to the idea of the ’80s or to a slightly heightened dystopian future, “Cramp” presents the group’s tools as they are.

This is most clear when you compare “Cramp’s” video, directed by Tronotape, to the one for LACHANE’s previous single “Ideal-I.” Both make explicit use of geometric shapes and distorted images, but to vastly different ends. In “Ideal-I”, images of plants are projected onto blank walls and doorways, the squares of the projection walling off life from its surroundings. As Cha’s voice is warped and manipulated, the human face is smeared into paste. At all points, the theme of alienation and separation are told through film language and visual symbolism. The shapes and colors in “Cramp” on the other hand don’t evoke anything, they simply are. You could call it abstract as it eschews even the suggestion of narrative or humanity, but it is actually literal. It doesn’t pretend any of the sounds or images you see came from anywhere but the machines and people which generate them. The omnipresence of the white background in the frame makes it impossible to ignore the work’s canvas and the craft being used to make it. The same is true of the looping drum machine pattern which serves as “Cramp’s” backbone. LACHANE don’t show or tell, they are.

Lachane will be released on February 9th via Holodeck. You can catch Lachane live at H010 in Brooklyn, NY on February 16th.

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