Artist: Lana Del Rabies
Title: Strega Beata
Genre: Industrial / Noise / Pop / Gothic Noise
Release Date: 17th March 2023
Label: Gilongo Records
LANA DEL RABIES is the solo project artist Sam An. She resides in Phoenix Arizona. What her music sets out to achieve is the recontextualising of the more ominous aspects of Pop music made by women and it incorporates all sorts of music flavours from Industrial, Gothic Noise, Metal and experimental sounds all wrapped up in discordance that inhabit the spaces between the political, the occult, personal trauma, brutality and grief. She has released two previous albums on the Deathbomb Arc label, the first called ‘In The End I Am A Beast’ (2016) and followed by ‘Shadow World’ (2018). Her sound has been described as “A passion for horror soundtracks translated into a futuristic brand of Goth that still loves the technologically curious days of death rock.” I’ve not heard either of those albums, ‘Strega Beata’ is my access point into their realms, this is as good a place as any so let’s dive in shall we?
Well, on first listen everything sounds spacious, dark and disorientating. I feel like I am floating in space, all around is quiet, I just have the sounds in my head that come thick and fast for company. I feel calm, relaxed and panicked. There’s a dreamy smoky and creepy Indian vibe in some of the tracks as well which conjures dissonant feelings. It’s like DIAMANDA GALAS, JARBOE, DANIELLE DAX and BJORK all spun out in a centrifuge and allowed to reconstitute in a slightly different form.
On second listen: eerie melodies on ‘Master’ repeat as a echoey vocal trudges along behind in a slight soporific manner, the track ends with NIN piano tinkles. ‘Mother’ evokes total blackness only broken by the distant throaty warbles of Sam An’s larynx. It gyrates up like salt in freshwater gyrates down. In the centre of the track there’s an abrupt stop before a chorus of voices wail out, ominous drones suffuse the air, trills and exclamations splatter. There’s a lighter feel to ‘Grace The Teacher’ the layering of sounds conjured from the bow on cello or violin strings create mobile tension. I am reminded of something, my mind wanders to find the reminiscence, I can’t find it so I come back to the task at hand.
‘Mourning’ which is the albums longest track at over nine minutes takes the soundscapes a bit further by adding a metal guitar loop to the mix which ups the urgency of the vocals which towards the end are an echoey creepy gloop. At this point I’ll put out a public service warning: If you work with knives or other sharp implements, I suggest you listen to LANA DEL REY or KATIE PERRY. The cathartic experience of working through your pain needs to be done in a controlled environment like your bedroom or lounge that’s been prepared for the task with cushions, lowlights and incense. Maybe something else? The journey is as hard or easy as you want to make it.
‘Reckoning’ is the album’s shortest at two seconds under four minutes. It grinds and grates through the first half, my teeth are clenched, from the midpoint voices jump in that sound like they are amplified on loud hailers. I hear a subtle THE FALL vibe, maybe it’s just me! ‘Apocalypse Fatigue’, the penultimate track with its bright drones that scream and pulsed synth bass that is almost belched encase my very being in breathable liquid that I inhale, drowning in my own courage until I get used to it. ‘Forgive’ ends the journey. It’s tinny keyboard and strings again suffused with the dreamy vocal. A half note melody winds through the track like stepping stones on a stream. The other bank is there, I can feel it. I can’t see it yet but it’s there. The journey is nearing its end.
I’m not fatigued per se after listening to this but I need an hour of total silence to assimilate what I’ve listened to and create some order. This is an exercise in making sense of personal trauma. It is an artistic endeavour to facilitate healing after abuse and the facilitation of abuse. This medicine and like all medicines you need patience so that the medicine can do its work. HEILUNG achieves the same thing but by different methods. But unlike HEILUNG this is not something I’ll be listening to on a regular basis. But like Co Codamol is good to have in the medicine cabinet this is good to have on the CD shelf.
01. Prayer Of Consequence
02. A Plague
05. Grace The Teacher
07. Hallowed Is The Earth
09. Apocalypse Fatigue
Sam An - Songwriting, Production and Performance
Total: 8 / 10