Inspired by the work of multimedia artist Jim Hodges, Sisyphus‘ newest album is more than just a musical collaboration. It’s a cross section of art, music and poetry. Their EP (Beak & Claw) was the initial introduction, but because it was done remotely it didn’t meet its full potential. It felt slightly detached. This time – thanks to a co-commission from the Walker Art Center and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music series – they were able to work face-to-face leading to a much more fluid exchange.
The project is an ambitious one, pulling each of them out of their respective comfort zones. They aim for the purest narrative possible – whether it be about love, loss or getting wasted – while still trying to maintain a pop feel. Son Lux works his magic and infuses it with all sorts of glossy elements, which underlines just about every song on the album. It’s driven by these rhythms, and accented with pure, honest writing.
Neither ‘Geti nor Sufjan stand too far out on their own so in that sense it’s a successful collaboration. If anything they’re being too cordial with one another, making sure not to step on the other’s toes. At 11 songs, however, they find a good rhythm and compliment each other’s strengths. They’re able to dabble in heady concepts without being narcissistic or self-indulgent. And now that the introductions are over the hope is that they’ll continue to grow and build upon the potential that is Sisyphus.
Opening with a Kenny-ism is a good way to pull fans from one shore to the other. It’s a complete stylistic shift, however, a Pandora’s box full of neo-futuristic blee-blops and glitches. The crushing beat, reminiscent of Odd Nosdam, fortifies the message, which is that when things get rough just relax:
A thorough sampling of Portishead with a bit of Aphex Twin to help the medicine go down. The stage belongs to Sufjan, and his spectral whispers fall like coins in a wishing well. It’s melancholy and desperate, but infused with the type of hopeful wanderlust that makes it an immediate winner; [LISTEN].
The pixelated beat is erratic, tipsy and a little out of sorts, a perfect setting to spit drunken game to. It’s an odd one – full of stale bar room mist and a slight aroma of shame – but just the place for a guy like ‘Geti to get comfortable in. The questions blur the line and abstract his intent:
Yet another mercurial beat to swim around and get lost in. It’s schizophrenic, paranoid and a little moody in that it’s hilariously sassy. ‘Geti’s rage slowly dissolves after a passive aggressive purge, and once it does an r&b inspired Sufjan emerges with a killer mid ’80s, jheri curl hook; [LISTEN]:
Gloomy melodies and an elusive percussion makes this feel like a b-side to a Polyphonic collaboration. but instead of topping out at one paranoid note, it reaches some scenic peaks and valleys offering ‘Geti an opportunity to name drop a screeching weasel and a ballplayer with a weird stance:
‘My Oh My‘
A group confessional from a talented triumvirate, with each adding their own two cents worth of experiences and emotions. It’s an emotive collage of sounds and words with no clear cut direction, just a cosmic flurry of images that coalesce into a bright supernova of iridescent nonsense; [LISTEN]:
A time warped beat, hollow and spacious enough to sustain Sufjan’s dramatic ascent to outer space. It’s humble, heartfelt and electric with its emotions. No frivolous agenda to weigh it down, just a friendly hand extended to those willing to dissolve their egos and reach back: [LISTEN]
‘Geti gets his proto-rap on over a simple two steppers rhythm. He delves into a Friday Night type narrative, but instead of Umar, Jaquie and a boat load of coke we get Banks and Connolly – two Little Houdinis with nothing to lose but absolutely everything to gain: [LISTEN]
A familiar place for our lead lyricist to think – near the bottom with just enough courage, and stupidity, to get up and try again just like the real Sisyphus. It sounds like a tragedy, but it’s really not. It’s a spirited attempt at deconstructing and revising the American dream: [LISTEN]
The stasimon unfolds like a glorified message to god – one that crystallizes in midair and shatters into a million pieces. It’s a dramatic climb to the summit – with smoldering synth pouring from every crater – but one certainly worth making as the view seems to bring the entire album into focus:
The only way to close an odd album is to get hammered, hit record and set the conversation to music. It’s got the same sonic mood as Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” sans the titanic ego. The self-deprecating nature is a better angle to take, and one that Sisyphus seems to have a strong grasp on: [LISTEN]