Over the last four years, the work of Lykanthea's Lakshmi Ramgopal has transformed from explorations of electro-ambient pop idioms into expansive performances and installations. Her debut EP Migration garnered praise from Noisey, Chicago Tribune, and Public Radio International’s The World for its alchemy of synths, catchy melodies, and Carnatic improvisatory techniques. The record led to a European tour, Leipzig’s Wave-Gotik Treffen, and an opening performance for the 50th anniversary celebrations of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, where she shared a bill with Billy Corgan, Lupe Fiasco, and Jamila Woods. Amid all this, while completing a PhD as a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, she teamed up with Paula Matthusen to create Prex Gemina, a sound installation for the AAR’s show Cinque Mostre.
Since the death of her maternal grandmother and birth of her niece last year, Ramgopal has turned her attention to herself with atavistic questions of motherhood and personal legacy. Her installation Maalai, which she showed at Chicago’s Comfort Station for The P.O.W.E.R. Project in 2017 and which will reappear at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, explores the histories of women in her family and the contemporary practice of Hinduism in domestic spaces with real and fabricated audiovisual records. With A Half-Light Chorus, which Experimental Sound Studio commissioned this year for its Florasonic series, she considers memory and kinship with an installation in Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservatory featuring vocalists imitating the calls of birds from India and Sanskrit literature. Both projects accompany multidisciplinary ensemble shows that herald a shift in Ramgopal’s storytelling—one that eschews cold electronics and embraces the warmth of the sruti box, unprocessed vocals, and performance art and dance.
These journeys find a home in Ramgopal’s follow-up to Migration, which is due later this year. A study in the search for renewal after loss, hope mingles with despair in her new record. In Lykanthea lies the eternal possibility of transformation and rebirth.
Buy Lykanthea's debut EP Migration at https://lykanthea.bandcamp.com.