Lansing-Dreiden: The Incomplete Triangle

The Incomplete Triangle

The problem with pretending you're a corporation is that you either look like a fool, or worse, you stop looking like a fool and actually become a corporation. Compare the John Lydon of 1980--the one who answered Tom Snyder's talk-show interrogations with the monotone mantra "[Public Image Limited] are a corporation...We have many interests"--with the John Lydon of the Sex Pistols' 1996 Filthy Lucre tour, in the course of which the public deduced that shoddy $30 concert T-shirts and collusion with Ticketmaster were among the band's "many interests." The dilemma gets even more complex when you're a multimedia art collective like Lansing-Dreiden, a countercultural hive masquerading as a band masquerading as a corporation in an era when actual corporations provide some of the most paradigm-shattering conceptual art to assault unwitting American audiences since the Armory Show. Enron's lesson to young artists on cultural war? Don't bring a potato gun to a shoot-out.

It's best to ignore Lansing-Dreiden's crypto-Situationist rhetoric, and not just because the gibberish in their MFA-damaged press-kit-slash-manifesto ("Our products intrinsically promote their own sense of obscurity") rivals the hollowness of the corporate legalese they exhaustively satirize on their website, Just take the bait and accept them as a rock group, because even if they're only pretending to be a band, The Incomplete Triangle is probably the most sublime pretend-rock you'll hear this year.

The titular "triangle" refers to a couple of different things: If you unfold the three-sided Digipak CD case and set it upright like a triptych painting, the jagged-line graphics seem to line up optically as the case itself forms an "incomplete triangle." The packaging also mirrors the album's tripartite sonic structure. The first third is a hazy blast of cavernous, Kiss-via-Martin Hannett guitar rockers like "Missing Message." The second part hews toward baroque synth bliss-outs ("Effect of the Night") that reprise the dense and desperate atmospherics of Colin Newman's Commercial Suicide LP (the greatest all-keyboard album ever made). The opener of the album's final third is the true go-to moment, though: "Glass Corridor" is that scene in The Silence of the Lambs where Buffalo Bill dances in dead women's skin with his dong tucked between his thighs--a song where the reverb sounds absolutely ancient, the yawing keyboard lines outdo My Bloody Valentine's attempts at making guitars sound like melting vinyl, and new wave--essentially a corporate invention--actually sounds threatening, or at least sexual and compelling and scary, for perhaps the first time ever. Is it any accident that the term "conceptual collective" didn't mean anything before corporate America delivered the cult of the rock band to the world at large back when my parents were virgins? Should I dress like a skyscraper for Goth Night?

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