L’Rain — „Fatigue“ (June 25, 2021)
•ƒ• Druhé album brooklynské písničkářky a zvukařky je jakýmsi duchovním účetnictvím, vířící směsicí orchestrálního sténání a lidského šepotu, evokující podvědomé proudění, možná ponechání sama sebe v bezcílném unášení. Již předešlé album oplývalo nekonvenční strukturou a to mu dodávalo pastorační atmosféru. L’Rain v první řadě pořád zní jako autoterapie a i zvenčí je přesvědčivě katarzní. Taja Cheek emoce používá jako umělecký zdroj. Konverguje mezi fúzí stylů, jako koláž, která je odrazem transcendentní cesty.
•ƒ• Brooklyn~born and based experimentalist and multi~instrumentalist Taja Cheek, aka L’Rain, is mapping the enormity of how to change. Her forthcoming second album, Fatigue, demands introspection from ready ears with an array of keyboards, synths, and hauntingly delicate vocals that create a genre entirely her own. Cheek has dipped her toes in every corner of the arts, through her work at some of the most prestigious art institutions in NYC and collaborations with the likes of Naama Tsabar, Kevin Beasley, Justin Allen, and others in contemporary arts.
•ƒ• How do we think through, express for, attest to, commit within and embody a substantive change for ourselves? How do we enact change in the company of others? What does it mean to internally engage with an abolition politic? These questions compose and propel the sonic energy of Fatigue. Over the course of 14 tracks, L’Rain continues her careful plotting of where we travel when cruising along the side alleys and major roads of an emotional city. Fatigue progresses the psychic collage assembled from her self~titled debut. Fatigue, while still cycling the wheel of grief, veers into the self~reckoning of holding emotional multiplicities that do not and cannot remain static. Cheek knows how we feel, and who we feel, expanding ever outward.
•ƒ• In the closing moments of the opening track, “Fly, Die”, we are asked, ‘What have you done to change?” This question is both invitation and invocation. Change and changing is not something done alone; it is a group process. L’Rain is clear in her desire for the collective to reflect and feel, admit and deny, balance and discard, consider and implement with her.
•ƒ• With a release date in 2021, the timing of Fatigue is not coincidental. Collectively, we are navigating the immense and looming figure of unremitting fatigue brought on by the ongoing pandemic, mass death, continued violence against Black people at the hands of the state, and the mountain range of systemic problems obstructing safety and security for the people that need it most. This quick succession of events wears our resilience to weariness. To question the nature of change with the awareness of weariness is to question the nature of exhaust: what are we putting out?
•ƒ• Fatigue puts out slippery sonics that Cheek describes as “approaching songness.” This “approaching songness” highlights L’Rain’s commitment to the experimental value of process as her practice. Heavily blending genres (thus making new unnameable space for herself) including but not limited to gospel, jazz, and neo~soul, Fatigue fractures and mends our expectations of what musicians, especially Black women musicians, are categorized to do versus what they need to do (and actually do).
•ƒ• In many ways, Fatigue is a sonic meditation on finding balance through the obliteration of binary logic. Refusing the finitude of either/or, L’Rain readily embraces the flexibility both/ and provides. “This album is an exploration of the simultaneity of human emotions..., the audacity of joy in the wake of grief, disappointment in the face of accomplishment. The pervasiveness of this layering of emotions can be surprising, empowering, and discouraging; these overlaps happen every single moment, all the time,” L’Rain expresses. “I might be trying to be heard more on this record. You can hear more of the words, my vocals are louder.” This sentiment is most clearly, though subtly, expressed in the titles of the tracks. The titles can be read as a poem of 28 words and 14 lines, potentially divided into 3 stanzas. The presentation of poetic intervention brilliantly subverts our expectations of what lyrics do, where they present, thesummarization of ideas, where and how marginalized people can be read or misread. “Black people, who, in the face of violence and discrimination, are often given little time to process.” The poetics of Fatigue gains even more radical momentum when we make clear how much of Black process and processing are forcibly rendered into abbreviation.
•ƒ• Fatigue encourages us to listen, laugh, mourn, hum, linger, realize, know, accept and release who we are, who and what we can be when we allow movements of change to be a necessary component of, not an antithesis to, rest.
Location: Brooklyn, NYC
Album release: June 25, 2021
Record Label: Mexican Summer
01. Fly, Die 2:01
02. Find It 6:18
03. Round Sun 0:21
04. Blame Me 3:32
05. Black Clap 0:27
06. Suck Teeth 3:57
07. Love Her 0:18
08. Kill Self 1:52
09. Not Now 0:10
10. Two Face 4:07
11. Walk Through 0:17
12. I V 2:25
13. Need Be 1:02
14. Take Two 3:09
• Taja Cheek — vocals, programming, samples, guitar, bass, synthesizers, keyboards, piano, airhorn, and percussion on all tracks
• Jon Bap — background vocals on “Blame Me”
• Quinton Brock — monologue and vocal performance on “Fly, Die” and “Two Face”
• E.T. Cali — radio announcer on “Two Face”
• Ben Chapoteau~Katz — synth on “Find It,” “Kill Self,” and “Take Two,” saxophone on “Find It,” “Blame Me,” “Suck Teeth,” “Kill Self,” “Two Face,” “I V,” and “Take Two,” vocals on “Two Face,” percussion on “Find It” and “Suck Teeth,” airhorn on “Fly, Die,” and general special sauce
• Tiger Darrow — cello on “Find It”
• Buz Donald — drums and percussion on “Find It” and “Suck Teeth”
• Alex Goldberg — drums and percussion on “Fly, Die,” “Two Face,” and “I V”
• Travis Haynes — organ and vocals on “Find It”
• Carlos Hernandez — assistant engineer on “Find It” and “Two Face”
• Devin Hobdy — background vocals on “Two Face”
• Andrew Lappin — guitar on “Suck Teeth” and “I V,” programming on “Find It” and “Kill Self”
• Alita Moses — background vocals on “Find It” and “I V”
• Taj Sapp — background vocals on “Find It” and “I V”
• Jake Sherman — organ and clavinet on “Find It” and “Suck Teeth”
• Mike Stephenson — background vocals on “Find It” and “I V”
• Abby Swidler — viola on “Find It”
• Zosha Warpeha — violin on “Find It”
• Anna Wise — background vocals on “Blame Me”
• Gabriel Zucker — string arrangement on “Find It”
• All songs written by Taja Cheek
• Produced by Taja Cheek and Andrew Lappin
• Executive produced and engineered by Andrew Lappin
• Co~produced by Ben Chapoteau~Katz
• Mixed by Jake Aron and Andrew Lappin
• Sequencing and additional production by Slauson Malone
• Mastered by Heba Kadry, NYC
• Front cover photograph by Jason Omar Al~Taan
• Design and layout by Bailey Elder
• Recorded at Black Lodge Recording (Brooklyn, NY), The Honey Jar (Brooklyn, NY), Hook & Fade Studios (Brooklyn, NY), The Mighty Toad (Brooklyn, NY), Studio Windows (Brooklyn, NY), and Sunset Sound Recorders (Los Angeles, CA), 2018~2019
• All songs published by Throw Shade Publishing (BMI)
Special thanks to:
• Lorraine Porter, rest in power, Wyatt Cheek, Deidre Ferrell, Rachel Ferrell, Ron Ferrell, rest in power, Joselia Rebekah Hughes, Devin Starks, Justin Felton, Zack Weinstein, Jeff Koenig, Keith Abrahamsson, Gil Israel, Ami Phipps, Samantha Thompson, Matt Werth, Dane Orr, Steve Vealey, Jake Agger, Jason Omar Al~Taan, Emily Schubert, Latisha Chong, Spencer Murphy, Emmanuel Olunkwa, Aria Dean, Scott Shinton, Arpan Somani, Luke Myers, Lisa Nelson, Halo Rossetti, Albert Baliwas, Angel Deradoorian
• Infinite gratitude to the people, communities, and spirits that made this record possible.
• To the beautiful duo that raised me, please know that I keep you and this pact close: ABPOWYAATYB.
• Ms. Angelou, thank you for „Reverses“ and the tools within.
• ♥ Taja / L’Rain
by Eric Torres ⌊JUNE 29 2021⌋ Score: 8.5 BEST NEW MUSIC