- A killer combination of club, pop and classical music dedicated to community.
- Last month, the UN released a report warning that governments have only 12 years to take action on climate change. If things continue as they are, the report said, environmental devastation will be inevitable by 2030. Cities will begin to disappear underwater. Others will become uninhabitable due to extreme heat. Another report from New York warned that plague viruses will escape long-frozen ice, and the air we breathe will eventually become "rolling death smog." You might be forgiven for feeling a sense of helplessness. How can we function in the present moment when it seems impossible to conceive of a future for humanity?
On his second album, the composer, choreographer and performer Colin Self champions the importance of kinship and community as a means of forging ahead, even in the most dire of circumstances. Siblings finds Self meeting the challenge of the future with a welcome optimism and what the artist calls a "do-it-together" mentality. The LP, the final installment of a years-long, multidisciplinary "sci-fi opera" that meshes club, pop and classical music, finds Self exploring the pluralities of the voice.
The vocals on Siblings are all strong and vital, and enhance the LP's sense of urgency. Two clubbier tracks, "Story" and "Stay With The Trouble (For Donna)," both start with the sound of sirens, the former a slow, ominous premonition, the latter quick and insistent. Whereas Self's high-register vocal is beautifully chopped by "Story""s racing beats, "Stay With The Trouble (For Donna)" uses the voice as staccato punctuation. It's a techno track that falls somewhere between ADR, Nils Bech and tUnE-yArDs.
While Self's experimental productions showcase the versatility of the voice, his poppier songs luxuriate in its timbre. His balmy vocals, coupled with choral arrangements and Peter Gabriel-esque backing tracks, are a regular source of comfort. That's also true of the subject matter. The anthemic "Survival" is a heartfelt declaration of love and sacrifice. "Emblem" is an ode to chosen family and the subsequent self-reflection that comes with creating a community. Backed by cascading strings and hand drums, Self articulates this process: "Understanding my role in arranging the sequence / To reveal to others another experience / Perspectively shifting the narrative focus / To one of becoming with others as family."
The LP's collaborations are more subtly powerful. "Quorum," featuring Aunt Sister, is bouncy and ecstatic, with playful monologues, calls of "din daa daa" and layered "aaahs." It sounds like a daytime party, and reminds us that we can have fun while coming together in new ways. On "Transitions," there are multiple yells of "transitions!" as the percussion ricochets like atomic particles. After the breakdown, voices come together to say, "I commit to you, we do, we do… we commit to you" against a bright, bell-like riff. It's a reassuring sentiment that reflects Self's exuberant outlook on the sustaining power of community.
04. Quorum feat. Aunt Sister
06. Stay With The Trouble (For Donna)
09. Research Sister
11. The Great Refusal
12. Once More (Bonus Track)
13. Emblem (Acapella)
14. Stay With The Trouble (Instrumental)