Collaborations are always interesting, especially when they involve individuals who you wouldn’t image working together. The EP above is the culmination of three different but equally talented artists: Sufjan Stevens, Son Lux, and Serengeti. I don’t know how I missed this, but I haven’t heard anyone mention it before either.
Stranger things have happened, but rarely do they make such beautiful music. The three esses that comprise the enigmatically titled s / s / s are as follows: Sufjan Stevens, he of the Fifty States Project and various baroque folk-pop opuses; Serengeti, the wry-witted rapper known for in-depth on-record character studies; and Son Lux, silken-voiced singer, studio wizard and singular beatsmith. The project’s roots reach back to 2009’s Dark Was the Night compilation, where Stevens and Geti met over a Buck 65 remix of a song written by psych-folkie Castanets. Continuing in the spirit of (unlikely) collaboration, the pair passed beats and raps back and forth, eventually enlisting Son Lux to dream Beak & Claw into fruition.
Listening to the EP you certainly get a sense of the musical density that’s been packed in. It reminds me quite a bit of Sufjan’s last album The Age of Adz which went all over the place stylistically, but somehow it all made perfect sense. What you’ve got with this EP, called Beak & Claw, is the culmination of an avant garde indie pop artist, an experimental electronic producer and a talented rapper who, when combined, actually make something quite remarkable.
While this momentous EP comprises a mere four songs, each covers an immense stretch of sonic territory and emotional range. At six minutes, “Museum Day” may be the most adventurous and also the most satisfying, opening with a swath of AutoTuned heartache courtesy of Stevens, cresting with the darkly detailed raps of Geti, and closing in a hail of crashing cymbals, orchestral glitch and haunted coos from Son Lux. “Beyond Any Doubt” exchanges that taut splendor for deeper grooves whose farthest-out moments bring to mind Shabazz Palaces’ cracked futurisms, albeit spiked with a falsetto’d pop hook. Fuzzy bass and industrial clang crash into lines about unrealized escapism and unpaid bills.
I think this album is pretty amazing. I’m glad I found it on Rdio so that I can listen to it on repeat now. Hopefully we get to hear more great tracks from s / s / s.