Sound of the Week: Lafawndah

The histories of childbirth and music are inseparable. Few have understood this and insisted upon it as urgently as the still largely opaque group known as the Artemis Response Coalition, or ARC. Little, as of present, is known. Recently translated communiqués between ARC members describe an all-female, extra-state, exo-institutional care collective. A pillar of ARC’s practice seems to be the renewal of music’s role in natal care and in the very act of childbirth; nearly all of its members, in addition to various medical skills, are skilled singers. As written in a letter by ARC physician and midwife Tanit Siman, “We belong to a time before and after the enclosure of birth.” With ‘Joseph’, we witness the exceptionally sacred moment of a new being entering into the world. It’s a very vulnerable and precious moment captured by Lafawndah and a group of exceptional women that we’re excited to share with you today.

ARC is decentralized, yet maintains a global network of black-boxed birthing houses. These birthing houses are dedicated to the people yet to come; both children not yet born, and a community that is in the process of coming to life. Committed to an anarchist biopolitics, ARC has risked itself and its members countless times in antagonism of private and nation, state-controlled medical systems.

From what we can glean of their methods, they make no discernable separation between vocal ensemble and medical unit. This unity of midwifery and musicianship can be historically traced at least as far back as ancient Egypt, but as Siman proclaims later in the same correspondence, “We are another kind of history. Ours is not the history of medicine, but water, ground, weight, duration, secrets, patience.”

Subsequent to the release of her self- titled and TAN EP’s, the creative trajectory of Lafawndah has both fanned out and sharpened, revealing an artist whose vision has only intensified as it expands.

Lafawndah’s journey to her current incarnation as a devotional pop polymath has wound as unpredictably as her compositional style. From a childhood spent under the tutelage of legendary percussion instructor Aderfi Aksil through to her controversial tenure at the short-lived but influential Dassin Sakina Institute, Lafawndah’s traversing of musical and artistic milieus has been defined by a freedom of tone, surrealist sense of space, and assured manipulation of formal and psychological tension.

After two acclaimed, self-directed music videos (Tan and Ally), Lafawndah has continued to tour internationally, where her live shows have become an ever-evolving testing ground for ruptures in the seamless concert experience, pitting committed humour against relentless physicality. Her ongoing relationship with filmmakers Partel Oliva has generated a cinematic body of work where a shared fascination with the counterpoints between music, body, space has paved a new lane for moving image and song. Most recently, this collaboration has resulted in Le Renard Bleu, an album and companion film made with legendary composed Midori Takada. Further, Lafawndah’s HONEY COLONY mixtape series has put the full extent of her dense, baroque, maximalist production and arrangement style on display, drawing thrilling new potentials from fellow travellers Klein, Bonnie Banane, Kelsey Lu, and Kelela.

In these inversions and re-imaginings (alongside recent new live material), one can trace the influence of artists such as Meredith Monk, Carlos Sara, and Andy Kaufman as much as musical antecedents AR Rahmann, Missy Elliott, or Geinoh Yamashirogumi, all while feeling and sounding only like herself. Uniting these projects and sounds is an overarching widescreen vision, saturated and bracing, sensual and imposing.

Stream/download ‘Joseph’ here:

Live dates
08/11/18 – Funkhaus, Berlin DE (with Midori Takada)
10-11/11/18 – Loop Festival, Los Angeles US
17/11/18 – Somerset House, London UK



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