Lansing-Dreiden: "A Line You Can Cross"


By Mark Abraham | 30 June 2006

“Guttural?” That’s the word that comes to mind. Those synths sound like the flaps of your gastronomical organs floating in thick gelatinous liquid, but when filmed with the right selection of lenses, strangely beautiful. They’re hard to get past; if the early eighties (all of it, because on this song at least Lansing-Dreiden defy simple spot-the-influence conjecture) isn’t your thing, I’d steer clear; the production here makes everything blurry, like trying to stretch wooly leg-warmers into telescopes, and any drama is incidental to attempts to make actual drama.

Phrases end on high notes to add faux-catharsis; countermelodies respond as voices leap entire octaves to change the mood. The little breaks in the middle are my favorite -- I love Madonna, but this band is chasing her entire career’s instrumentation in their bridges and transitory phrases. Somewhere in the middle a vibraphone comes in and throws the perfect amount of gentle agitation over the squall. And those “choral” synth patches! Gross. In fact, it’s all gross, all over-the-top, all artifice, like the kid in your high school who everybody always thought was the “best” actor, which was not the case, but this is like being forced into being that kid’s lab partner, and realizing that outside of performance, there is some coolness present. You never become best friends, but that knowledge at least makes the music(al) more tolerable.