This is actually not the first time Baroque folk/pop singer Sufjan Stevens, Chicago emcee Serengeti and multi-instrumentalist / electronic art-pop producer Son Lux teams up as a trio. Previously, they’ve released Beak & Claw, a 2012 EP, under the s/s/s moniker, and while it had some nice moments, “Alcohol” feels substantially more realized. On here, the trio combines all their individually distinctive styles into a highly original and jaw dropping effort. On the first half of “Alcohol”, Serengeti drops a stream of seemingly random words that mounts to a series of apprehensive remarks. During the second half, Son Lux’s menacing electronics brings a towering malaise that culminates with Sufjan Stevens repeating “I am not my father” in a distant, almost alien, voice. All this is further enhanced by a brilliant, beat-synchronized celebrity/tabloid/news/whatmore photo-collage-turned-(not-so)lyrics-video that settles “Alcohols” apocalyptic invite.
While I’ve for long praised the trio’s separate outputs, I was completely taken aback by each member’s high level of commitment to this cause. If you seek further evidence, just listen to the wonderfully schizophrenic new cut “Rhythm of Devotion” that alternates between Serengeti’s pouring rhymes over squealing hip hop beats, and Sufjan Stevens’ soft spoken vocals over neon-lit synth textures. Together, the trio creates music that fascinates on several important levels, while at the same time stepping out of their individual comfort zone. Since these types of projects seldom lead to anything stimulating, makes Sisyphus outputs all the more impressive. They tested the waters with s/s/s and evidently realized there is more than enough potential between the three of them for furthering the partnership. This could be the beginning of something big.
Watch/Stream both tracks below, and if you’ve missed “Calm It Down”, their first collaboration under Sisyphus, you get a new chance. The trio’s self-titled album is out March 18 via Asthmatic Kitty and Joyful Noise.