Sisyphus

Sisyphus

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When the trio of rapper Serengeti, electronic artist Son Lux, and singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens first appeared in 2012, they tested the waters with a four-song EP under the moniker s / s / s. It was an unusual and unexpected collaboration, and one they apparently enjoyed enough to warrant a second release, this time offering a full-length LP under the new band name Sisyphus. Cross-genre collaboration projects such as this are usually a mixed bag of results and Sisyphus is no different. On their own merit, each of these artists have made memorable and original music with Stevens perhaps adding the most bona fide indie star power of the bunch. It is also Stevens whose contributions sit most jarringly in Sisyphus' eccentric mix. Fans of his 2005 masterpiece Illinois will identify with a song like "My Oh My," when the raps and glitchy beats suddenly give way to exultant recorders, choral sections, and the type of hugely melodic folkestrations that were once his unmistakable hallmark. Likewise, the witty, oddball charm of Serengeti's track, "Booty Call," will please his longtime fans while hopefully attracting new ones. Playing the middle man and doing his best to glue these two disparate stars together is Son Lux, whose own highly orchestrated music probably has more in common with Stevens', yet whose beats can best be identified with Serengeti's. It's a tough role to play and without his presence as a lead vocalist, his ample contributions often seem outgunned by the others' distinct but dissimilar styles. Yet seemingly, the point of this collaboration is for each artist to put their strengths forward, shaping a new and unified sound. They come close on the excellent "Rhythm of Devotion," but much of the record sounds three-pronged and disjointed. There are certainly fun, playful moments, often thanks to Serengeti's wry, conversational style like on "Lion's Share," which sounds like three friends having fun in a studio and in the end, that's probably what this album is all about. Taken as a musical statement, Sisyphus works fairly well at times, but it's the kind of collaboration no one asked for and much like their mythological Greek king namesake, getting all three artists' styles to gel is a bit like pushing a boulder eternally up a hill.

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