Released on August 24, 2017
Hoferlanz I is the solo debut from LANZ (aka Benjamin Lanz). It was originally self-released in 2015 exclusively as a free download on CDBaby.com. (Yes, that’s right, CDBaby.) A “release” essentially hidden in plain site, the record is now being reissued by Brassland in cassette & digital formats so the music might reach a wider audience.
The sonic inspirations for LANZ are diverse. “Sun Ra, Soundgarden, and Syd Barrett are my holy trinity,” said Ben. A holy trinity to no one, ever, that is until he managed to unite their off-kilter visions into one unique user’s taste profile. If that trinity describes the LANZ’s aesthetic DNA, the resulting music on his album Hoferlanz I sounds like something completely different: “Think Eno and The Who in a time warp,” says Ben. “They get in the Tardis thinking they’d returning to their respective best years in London. But instead, they land at The Ritz in 1992 just in time to catch a Dinosaur Jr. & My Bloody Valentine double bill.”
While Hoferlanz I is grounded in Ben’s unshakable belief in off-kilter rock and roll, its subject matter couldn’t be more tender or sentimental. Mostly written while Ben toured as a member of indie music all-stars The National, Beirut, and Sufjan Stevens, the lyrics reflect a longing for home. These songs were a way to focus on his family life at a distance — to turn his absent wife & kids into a kind-of mantra or mandala — an object to focus the mind & meditate upon — a subject to inform Ben’s musical muse.
Indeed, the name of the record is a hybrid of Ben’s surname and that of his spouse Sonya Hofer. Sonya is also mother to his two children and a PhD in musicology, specializing in the 20th century’s post-WWII avant garde. (Think Harry Partch to Mouse On Mars. Compatibly off-kilter tastes are one way to ensure a happy marriage!)
“This record also represents a distinct choice to step out from a sideman role,” says Ben. “I thought the best way to do that was to write music that sounded nothing like that of the bands I play in, and to address the sappy heart of my personal life. For a long time I couldn’t get beyond my self consciousness about my own sappy-ness to finish these songs. It was much easier to support other people’s sappy-ness and be a diligent sideman. But, finally, it was time.”
“Karla’s Retreat” is the lead single and includes a video by Indira Domini. French singer Mina Tindle contributes vocals to "Its all Been The Same.” Drummer & Planetarium collaborator James Mcalister appears "We Live In Warm Duvets.” Kyle Resnick — Ben’s bandmate in The National & Beirut — plays trumpet all over the record. Laurence Eaves and Griffin Rodriguez helped record it.