The eclectic and experimental supergroup LNZNDRF is back with their sophomore and appropriately titled album II. The band, with members from The National and Beirut have created a space where listeners can take a journey through unknown territory by delivering far-reaching instrumental music for fans to escape in.
“The Xeric Steppe” isn’t just a song but rather an enigma waiting to be explored. Listeners grapple with the album opener that doesn’t utter a single lyric for almost eight minutes yet still tells a story that is linear and descriptive despite with lack of words. Finishing the song with a proper crescendo, the album’s opener sets the bar high for what is yet to come. It’s clear from the beginning that LNZNDRF has continued to take their stance in the ambient music world by showcasing their talents through the art of sonic storytelling.
Previously released single “Brace Yourself” sees the band welcome their indie rock roots with a song that’s upbeat and melodic but too repetitive for a casual listening experience. The same can be said for “You Still Rip,” which seems to distract from the album’s overall narrative. While these are both solid contributions in their own right, it’s clear that the strength in LNZNDRF is their unique approach to instrumentals.
It’s the album’s midsection where II ultimately peaks. Both “Cascade” and “Chicxulub” are rich with emotion and technically sound, but what they bring to the album is a polar contrast between high and low. “Cascade” is deep with heavy tones and sees Benjamin Lanz’s vocals step away from humanity and take on a mechanical persona. It’s a calming moment before the adventurous, bass leading riffs of “Chicxulub” take over. It’s here where LNZNDRF continues their musical journey with a fast paced productivity number that is reminiscent of a Nintendo soundtrack from the 90s.
Additionally, “Gaskiers” contributes to the band’s experimentation process by including the soft storybook elements of electronic sounds, paired with diverse aspects of music production and technology. The track is far from radio friendly, but makes for a great addition to any mindfulness or meditation playlist.
To complete the album, LNZNDRF combines their talents from the world of indie rock with their impressive sense for ambient tones. “Stowaway” is the perfect combination of the two genres and provides a good sense of closure to complete the listening process. While it was nice to have a sprinkle of mainstream familiarity on the record, the album’s true spotlight is on II’s instrumental tracks. It is clear that with this album, LNZNDRF has positioned themselves as not just a supergroup but as leading composers in the experimental music world.