Known for his innovative use of source recordings and unconventional sampling, Felix Laband has been at the experimental helm of electronic music for a while now.
With every offering he redefines his sound, forever at the borders of what seem to be lost musical worlds. The approach of a space explorer is signalled by an eery and distant hum; the calls of city dwellers echo through nocturnal darkness; birds flock in their thousands across a sun-swept landscape – these are just some of the images that come to mind when I listen to Felix Laband, and I know I’m not the only one.
Shot through with beauty, Laband’s latest album The Soft White Hand stems from his desire to express a sense of the disenfranchisement he felt while recording this album, and the sad separation between him and his home.
A sense of untethered-ness to space lurks almost everywhere–tracks bear little resemblance to one another, instead a peculiar collage of absorbing electronica.
Opener “Dreaming In Johannesburg” samples a South African news report from the ’80s about a bomb explosion, whilst unsettling sirens give way to “Prelude”–a luminous composition of percussive xylophone, elevated by recordings taken in the early hours of the morning in Laband’s garden, of the calls of none other than the Hadeda Ibis (never before has a hadeda sounded so good, let me tell you).
“Derek And Me” comes as the record’s most danceable track, littered with crackling voices that weave their way in and out of the mix, while “Snug Retreat” delivers similar rhythmic undertones and vocal sampling.
“We Know Major Tom’s A Junkie” is something new for Laband – an eloquent reinterpretation of classical compositions (most noticeably the works of Beethoven), while the mundane voice of an AI configures words and melodies in a strangely comforting way.
The more I listen to this album the more I realise that I can’t properly write about it. The Soft White Hand is the kind of record you need to sit with for a long time. Return to it during moments of quiet, solitude, and wander with it–only then will you grasp the sprawling expanse of Laband’s inner-self.
Feature pic supplied by artist