“Yo enough about me though, you got a favorite game show?/Mine is called ‘I’m involved’/But nothing that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl can’t solve/Nothing that’s organic is impossible to dissolve”
Sisyphus is a particularly genius fusion of three unique varieties of music. Son Lux brings the experimental post-rock backings, Sufjan Stevens the hooks, ballad chord structures, vocals and lyrics, and Serengeti the tight spoken raps and a bit of hip hop beat influence. It sorts a generational craving for fearless pop music, productions driven by intuition, experimentation and exotic overlap. In an interview with Pitchfork, Stevens explains the unlikely combination: “I think we each relate to each other by respecting what each of us do well and giving space to encourage that. I know this sounds like a self-help book, but honestly it felt more like professional wrestling. Physical and awkward and half-naked, men in speedos. But I’d do it again in a heart beat. We are all working towards nothing. The apparent futility of this collaboration—a black rapper from Chicago, a white singer-songwriter from Detroit, and an arty producer with cool glasses, though I dunno where Ryan’s from, Cleveland? We have so little in common but we have deep love for each other and we are pushing that stone together.”
The album is full of quirky, humorous tangents, momentous repetitions and odd production turns that introduce a feeling of futuristic warmth. It almost feels like an album of mash-ups- Sufjan’s gentle vocals residing as backdrop to Geti’s spoken chorus on “Rhythm of Devotion”, or maybe it’s the other way around. The final verse on “Booty Call” features the melody hook from “Take Me,” further maxing out on an album of discombobulated madness, intertwined with a trust that individual talents can mold to fit each other much like unlikely friendships manifest and refresh, reset standards and obliterate conventions in search of something beautiful. Geti’s lyrics here play like freestyle wildfire: “Here’s my crescendo put away Nintendo/We don’t need no curtains on the window/Let me see your bangs let me see your books/Let me see your legs let me see your hooks/Singin’ opera candle opera/Ima get a condom put it on my Mazda/Wanna see my light show I could tell you wanna go/BOOM/ Ima kiss you like a bubble in the brooks.” Follow his flow and feel like a goof if all intentions play out properly.
The signature sound that Sufjan brings to the project- his melancholy tones, harmonies sung so reliably and recognizably, the way he can repeat “Love, take me to your room, I wanna be your friend” for the entirety of “Take Me” and still break serious emotional ground- brings the project its initial dose of critical praise. Serengeti’s popularity with Anticon (Why?, Baths, D33J, Young Fathers) and his monotone, naked honesty is a version of that fresh tint on hip hop that everyone looks for all of the time- lyrics are seriously fun to follow, inducing imagery with no help from the common phrase. Son Lux works to compliment, not define the sounds of Sisyphus. His electronic productions bend to the feeling of each song- bold takes on hip hop for Serengeti and granular noise to mirror Sufjan’s choral ceilings.
Sisyphus is one of the most unique collaborations happening in music. The trio notes the abstract installation artist Jim Hodges as a direct inspiration for the album. Out March 18th on Asthmatic Kitty Records and Joyful Noise Recordings, you can stream the album in full below: