Formed in 2004, Dutch trio Labasheeda consists of Saskia Van Der Giessen (vocals/guitar/violin/viola/piano), Arne Wolfswinkel (guitar/bass/piano) and Bas Snabilie (drums/marimba/synth/percussion). The band have several recordings to their name with Blueprints marking their sixth full-length album.
I first became aware of Labasheeda having reviewed their last release, 2020’s Status Seeking about which I commented on it being ‘an enjoyable listen and fans of 90s indie will become misty eyed with nostalgia’, something I didn’t address however was the band’s name. A Google search reveals that it is the name of a village in County Clare in Ireland famous for Irish traditional music and dance. What relation that bares to some experimental art punks from Amsterdam isn’t immediately clear but it’s hardly a deal breaker.
Fossils recalls Sonic Youth at their discordant best during their heyday, with Saskia‘s vocals bearing similarities to that of Kim Gordon’s. What stands out about the track however from being mere ‘Youth worship, is the subtle and tasteful use of a violin, demonstrative of a band highly skilled in showcasing their influences but without sacrificing their originality. A strong opener.
Closer is a little spikier, I’d even say a little punky with nods to bands such as Chicago noise-rockers Tar (not the first time I’ve referenced them in a review I know). The track slows down roughly halfway through and takes a sassier Riot Grrrl route ala Sleater Kinney. A nostalgic journey and a damn good one at that. Sparkle is like Patti Smith had she started during the grunge boom while the raw emotion displayed in the vocals reminds one of the late, great Mia Zapata of The Gits. One of the more direct sounding tracks on the album and a personal favourite.
recalls Sonic Youth at their discordant best during their heyday, with Saskia’s vocals bearing similarities to that of Kim Gordon’s…
Homeless is interesting, as is implied by its title the track exudes a less than happy persona and sonically this is evident too. It is darker with shades of vintage Siouxsie and the Banshees, especially in the ringing guitar lines and dramatic vocals. Another quality piece. Curiosity is the album’s shortest track at just over a minute long and rages spectacularly like early Dinosaur Jr while Vanity by contrast is a slinky, sultry Hawaiian jazz type number ala The Moonlighters (which features the legendary Bliss Blood of the Pain Teens). Mellow goodness fo’ sure.
Minus Minus is fantastic with hints of ‘80s death rock and some nice synth flourishes, think Sacred Bones’ superb Killed By Deathrock compilations. Curiously, I was even reminded of pre Take My Breath Away Berlin, right up my street. Volatile is an instrumental that features some beautiful violin and is a lot more orientated towards post-rock, as someone who finds that genre somewhat tedious and pretentious at times, I can safely say this is anything but.
Procedure again borrows from Siouxsie and co but with a slight psychedelic folky twist that affords for some intriguing listening, meanwhile Tigre Royal, the longest track on the album at over five minutes, seems to tread a similar path to angular ‘90s indie rock outfits as Autoclave, Polvo and their like, which is more than fine by me. What Remains Is Love concludes the album in a slightly late ‘70s New York vein ala Talking Heads, Richard Hell and Jonathan Richman. With inspirations like that, you can’t possibly go wrong.
A long time has elapsed since Status Seeking and having reviewed countless albums since (I’ve lost count to be honest), Labasheeda had somewhat inevitably gotten lost in the shuffle. I’m therefore grateful for Blueprints arrival to remind me what a fantastic band they actually are.
Scribed by: Reza Mills