It’s not often we can be so certain, so enthusiastic and so unremittingly taken with a release that it transcends what our current mood is to becoming an instant classic. Wildly hailing something immediately as being ear gold is usually misguided and frankly, silly. Tastes change so quickly and what can sound fresh and new can almost overnight turn into bland and pedestrian. Not sure here – this is the real deal and we can’t wait for the rest of the world to catch up.
Lalien is based in Toronto, Canada, a city best known for its remarkable ability to produce comedians and film-makers, rather than musicians. Perhaps this is telling – there is something of both the bizarre otherworldliness of David Cronenberg and the endearing qualities of both John Candy and Mike Myers in Lailien. He, like his music, is far from straight forward, and you realise quite quickly that the less you know, the easier it is to understand. To just allow Lailien’s music to wash over you and to gently seep into your mind’s cracks is a joy and an experience in itself which takes repeated listens to fully come to terms with.
Happy to hail Karl Marx as readily as Taylor Swift, Lailien draws upon areas of the arts, spirituality, non-conformity and literature which few would dare to explore, nevermind admit to. With an elbow in the quirky psychedelia of the Elephant Six Collective; a knee in the bubbling electronic vistas of Dave Fridmann; his nose in the crook of Animal Collective – Lailien is playing an aural and lyrical version of Twister which is as glorious as it is ungainly.
If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember how absurdly “wrong” The Flaming Lips sounded when they first peered over the parapet in the 80’s. It was winsome and challenging in equal measure – demanding yet immediately and naggingly familiar. This feels to some extent as though history is repeating itself, but with wings, extra wheels and turbo boost. The fragility of Lailien’s voice can’t help but remind the listener of Wayne Coyne but there’s something beneath the surface which is loaded with extra-terrestrial mysticism, as much from the tombs of the Incas as the spaceships of Venus.
Lailien’s debut album, Ensouler, is released in 2019 but, rather like Sun Ra, perhaps it’s already been available for millennia in some corners of the universe. It’s sharp, catchy, angular, and fucking amazing.