Låska in Russian translates as “Ласка,” or ”caress.” In Swedish, Laska means a ”black ink stain.” Russian Coldwave ex-pats Låska integrate these two meanings, into their sizzling track “Into the Smoke”. The song is featured on the pair’s first release via DKA records, Strangers, an album that came out in the late Summer of 2020. Strangers is the second release from Låska following a self-titled cassette on the French label Distag. Sonically, the duo takes inspiration from the synth-pop and cold-wave scenes of the ’80s, citing bands like Imperia, Beta Evers, Depeche Mode, Cabaret Voltaire, Linear Movement, and Grauzone as their primary influences.
The pulsing, effervescently danceable, and dark minimal wave dirge has a dark origin story: “Into the Smoke is about self-delusion, how sometimes we deliberately dive into oblivion and denial as in the cloud of smoke not to see some awful truth about ourselves,” says the band. “But just until the smoke clears up. We wanted the song to sound dynamic and echoing like you were trying to get through some thick fog into the clear air as fast as you can.”
Låska’s Oksana and Dima found that their move to Berlin heavily inspired the themes on Strangers, which explores the loneliness in a new city and scene. The songs echo the sentiments of local hero and one-time famous resident, David Bowie, who composed the instrumental “A New Career in a New Town” about his adventures in Berlin for his 1976 opus, Low.
“Throughout our hectic first year here, we were learning a lot about history, got extremely into Stasi spy movies and the Berlin Wall era,” they explain. “Something that is close in a way to the situation in Russia now with authorities struggling to cling to power, when everything is crumbling down in their own hands. The methods are still very similar, seeing that Mr. Putin is an ex-Stasi officer. So another vision for the song was a Stasi official sitting in his smoked-through office trying to figure out his next step and holding down his disappointment in his own beliefs.”
The haunting and highly creative video for Into The Smoke was a collaborative effort, with illustrations and animation by Alisa Menshikova and camera, direction, post-production by Låska. It is a surrealist romp through various landscapes, playing on the concept of reality and infinite versions of it. It is dramatic in its DIY simplicity.
Watch the video for “Into The Smoke” below:
Order Strangers here and listen to “Into The Smoke” below via Låska’s Bandcamp: