Susu Laroche captures a dance to ward off shadow inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle at London’s Ormside Projects.
In Ursula K. Le Guin’s legendary high fantasy landmark the Earthsea Cycle, shadows are conceived as animate entities, presences that seek to inhabit a living body to turn it into a gebbeth. A gebbeth is a physical shell of a living being consumed by the power of shadow, taken over and transformed into an instrument of the shadow’s dark designs. On her album closer to the thing that fled, Susu Laroche explores this process, utilising her singular, fever dream vocals as an instrument to simulate this shadow, her writhing, reverb-laden dabke compositions representing her efforts to shrug off the darkness, to resist the transformation into a gebbeth.
With washing touch off, Laroche visualises this process in a surreal movement sequence, smudged with luminous film grain. “After meeting Leila when we performed together at Nighthawks at Ormside Projects in December, 2022, the idea for this video was born,” Laroche explains. “I wanted to shoot something simple and kind of classic. Since I always like to work with handheld camera and movement shooting was really simple, as usual, I just shot on 16mm and my Bolex camera. We shot at Ormside with friend, boss, collaborator Mike Levitt assisting me, the pole was rented from the ethical stripper company.”
“It feels nice to see the iconic Ormside decibel meter and sound system in some of the shots,” Laroche continues. “In those moments the video feels like it documents the breeding ground where these connections and sounds are born. I guess you don’t often get to see the club out of context like that.” Unspooling in a surreal haze, Laroche’s smeared framing of the dancer manifests the foreboding and dread that emanates from the sparseness of her sound, an uncertain document of a ceremony to shake off the shadow, to ward off the gebbeth.