Gilgongo Records / 2xLP/CD/DL / 2023
“Beatification” means recognising the sanctity of a blessed personas and allowing their cult in the local church, and the word ‘beata/beatus’ itself means blessed, fortunate, or bringing happiness in Latin. How does this relate to Sam Ann aka Lana Del Rabies’ latest album? “Strega Beata” was released on 17 March – the same day a post on the fanpage apeared:
“… It may be a bit different than what you would expect from me, but I hope you find something for yourself in it. Thank you for being here with me.”
As if she’s apologising for something… As if she has something to apologise for… And this album is just simply filled with humility that was hardly ‘felt’ in previous releases.
Accompanying her on this journey from the first piece to the last, I have the impression of being involved in some very demanding and cathartic process. The author herself admits that the period during which the material emerged was a very difficult one, filled with traumatic experiences in the personal sphere related to some kind of loss. She also emphasises that it hit her really hard at that time, how people can be cruel to each other. Apparently, the whole endeavour was really close to failure.
Perhaps this is why the raw, destructive rebellion gave way to a deep reflection fuelled by regret. This can be heard quite well. The rather specific rhythmics also comes to the fore of the songs, which this time quite prominently reminds me of the cool Icelandair industrial beat present on Björk’s albums. The one that resonates in the chest and with every inhale integrates the composition with the life pulsating in the body… Ah….
There is far less overdrive, screaming ang anger in the vocals – instead we are presented with a landscape packed with sound, like Monet’s paintings with colour (which is quite typical for the artist), but this experience is far more universal than the previous served up by Lana Del Rabies. On ‘Prayers of Consequence’, ‘Grace the Teacher’ and ‘Forgive’, Mark Glick (Andrew Jackson Jihad) contributed to this monumental structure with his cello, and it has to be said that Sam’s astonishingly soothing voice, echoing through the storm of neural assaulting noise, made quite a neat pair with this string.
There will probably be those who’ll exclaim “Oh, no! It used to be droons, noise and hell!”, but if you think about it long enough, it’s all quite coherent. Looking, for example, at Sam An’s activities in the academic sphere (lectures for ASU Popular Music on the barriers between the popular scene and the underground), I have the impression that the project is coming up to a perfect cycle – originating from a performance based on the deconstruction of plebeian POP music, it seeks a synthesis with it and strives to eventuall ruthless expansion. And so far, despite the fact that the vocals do sometimes sound a bit as if someone had thrown sand on Rihanna, there have been no casualties so far.