28 Mar Introducing: Sisyphus
Sisyphus is a collaboration between Sufjan Sevens, Serengeti and Son Lux. Michigan-based Sufjan is a singer-songwriter who is best known for his unique sound, which blends folk, indie and electronic elements. Serengeti is an underground rapper, hailing from Chicago, with a prolific catalogue of projects, including Friday Night, Yoome and Tha Grimm Teachaz, as well as an alter ego, Kenny Dennis, under his belt. New York-based Son Lux is the producer. He is responsible for last year’s critically acclaimed Lanterns LP, with its lead track, Lost it to Trying, heralded as one of Pitchfork’s Best New Tracks of 2013.
Sisyphus were originally known as s/s/s — an awkward moniker, the pronunciation of which was unclear, that also made the collaborative project a search engine’s worst nightmare — probably a good idea, then, to chance the name to the most SEO-friendly Sisyphus. As s/s/s, the trio only had one release, 2012’s Beak and Claw. In December 2013, Sisyphus’ silence was broken with the release of Calm it Down, which would be the opening track on their self-titled debut LP, which was released this March.
Calm It Down immediately sets the bar; this epic 6-and-a-half-minute song demonstrates each artist’s role brilliantly. The repeated lyrical phrase “When you feel…” sets a tone in the verses, inviting the listener to relate to themes of unrest before the hook “calm it down” is repeated – a valuable message that contrasts with the verses but makes you think. The song initially starts out as a drum track, which then includes a nice, warming synth melody in the chorus. There are echoes of pitch-shifted vocals and interesting electronic melodies that tie the verse and choruses together, along with added percussion. The overall music feels reminiscent of that of LCD Soundsystem. Sufjan’s reverb-soaked vocals introduce a spaced-out and dreamy element that builds further depth to the sound.
Their blend continues to prosper throughout the record, but also includes a certain degree of space for each artist to shine. Some tracks lean more towards Sufjan’s input (Take Me; I Won’t be Afraid), while others more towards Serengeti’s (Booty Call; Flying Ace). However, Son Lux’s production keeps the whole thing flowing consistently with beautiful sonic soundscapes.
Closing track Alcohol (which premiered on American Vogue’s website) caps the record off triumphantly with Serengeti’s witty wordplay around the subject matter, Son Lux’s pumping production, and Sufjan’s haunting voice, which climaxes the track, ending the whole record on a euphoric high, which demands another spin.
Sisyphus LP is now available on Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify.
Written by Grace Howard.