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Hear Led Er Est Channel Tragedy Into New LP ‘The Diver’

Led Er Est / Photo by Nikki Sneakers

Spacey synth trio Led Er Est were in the middle of writing and recording tracks for their second LP last summer when tragedy struck singer/guitarist/bassist Sam Kklovenhoof’s family — his sister died suddenly in car accident. “I got knocked back pretty badly,” Kklovenhoof says from his new home in Austin, across the country from his New York bandmates, Shawn O’Sullivan (synths, drum machine) and Owen Stokes (synths, samples.) “The direction of the songwriting, lyrically, for me took a whole different turn after that. I think some of the more emotional moments on the record have to do with that.”

The Diver, dedicated to his late sibling, is a dark, unsettling aural narrative that climaxes in haunting tension and warped dance beats before mellowing to a somber close. “The diver is a symbol of something going really far down and not being able to come back up,” Kklovenhoof explains. “A lot of the lyrics are a bit bleak.”

“Kaiyo Maru,” the first single from the album — slated for a May 8 release via the band’s new label, Sacred Bones — streaming exclusively below, is no exception. “I think we all really believe in the idea of the album as a vehicle to convey a variety of different moods, to guide the listener through different experiences,” O’Sullivan says.

For Kklovenhoof, the record served as therapy. “I think it definitely helped bring me back to reality a little bit,” he says. “I still haven’t been able to function as I was before it happened, but music definitely helped.”