Brooklyn-born and based experimentalist and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, aka L’Rain, is mapping the enormity of how to change. Her forthcoming second album, Fatigue, demands introspection from ready ears with an array of keyboards, synths, and hauntingly delicate vocals that create a genre entirely her own. Cheek has dipped her toes in every corner of the arts, through her work at some of the most prestigious art institutions in NYC and collaborations with the likes of Naama Tsabar, Kevin Beasley, Justin Allen, and others in contemporary arts.
In many ways, Fatigue is a sonic meditation on finding balance through the obliteration of binary logic. Refusing the finitude of either/or, L’Rain readily embraces the flexibility both/ and provides. “This album is an exploration of the simultaneity of human emotions...the audacity of joy in the wake of grief, disappointment in the face of accomplishment. The pervasiveness of this layering of emotions can be surprising, empowering, and discouraging; these overlaps happen every single moment, all the time,” L’Rain expresses. “I might be trying to be heard more on this record. You can hear more of the words, my vocals are louder.” This sentiment is most clearly, though subtly, expressed in the titles of the tracks. The titles can be read as a poem of 30 words and 15 lines, potentially divided into 3 stanzas. The presentation of poetic intervention brilliantly subverts our expectations of what lyrics do, where they present, the summarization of ideas, where and how marginalized people can be read or misread. “Black people, who, in the face of violence and discrimination, are often given little time to process.” The poetics of Fatigue gains even more radical momentum when we make clear how much of Black process and processing are forcibly rendered into abbreviation.