One would imagine that the temperature and the greater environment of New York City would have a huge impact on the band’s coming out of the scene there, and listening to The Diver, you’re assumption would be right. Led Er Est have constructed their second album, this time on Sacred Bones, with a very metallic cold sheen, further propelling them into the minimalist electronic scene.
“Animal Smear” opens with a very quick paces electronic rhythm, soon joined by a dark guitar line. It’s vocal presence is a bit difficult to completely grasp at first, with Samuel Kklovenhoof’s voice maintaining a sterile echo that is present throughout. For all intents and purposes, the record begins simply, not pushing the group’s sound too much further than Dust on Common, their first effort. However, there’s a pop sensibility that soon emerges for the group, which may garner more attention in the long run.
Your first glimpse at a progressing sound comes via “Kaiyo Maru.” The opening beat is a little bit basic, but the effects of implemented keyboards combined with Kklovenhoof’s voice give the track a softer pop underbelly. If you could turn up the bass just a hint, and sharpen the dully synthesized drum beats, you might just have a glorified hit. Interestingly, other tracks such as this one exist, such as “Iron the Mandala,” portraying the softer side of the band. A great deal of The Diver seems like the band is just on the verge of pushing beyond their cold minimal sheen, yet they never take that full plunge over the edge; they choose to evoke emotions with the bare necessities…and the more I’m involved with the listening process, the more I see that it works.
Led Er Est‘s restraint in the overall production of the album demonstrates that their willing to remain subdued in light of the resurgence in bright electronic pop. Listening to title track, “The Diver,” there’s an emptiness to the song. I keep imagining myself walking through some large industrial landscape, one that’s been left barren and destroyed. It’s a haunting number, and when followed by the impending doom of “Bladiator,” you begin to understand the dark sentiment that establishes the mood of the entire album. It’s the perfect background music for a cold moment in life; one that doesn’t necessarily require the chilling weather of NYC in the winter.
The Diver, for me, finds Led Er Est in the middle ground, balancing somewhere between cold industrial electronic and dark pop. Personally, I dig the entire thing as an album, but my ears definitely lean closer to the speakers during the poppier moments of the album. Seeing as the group hasn’t been around for too long, you can see as this record as a band finding their way through the darkness in their music. Perhaps in the future there’s a darker side, but I’m hoping for a little bit of light to continue to shine through.