Beak & Claw
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Sisyphus’ roots reach back to 2009’s Dark Was the Night compilation, where Sufjan and Geti met over a Buck 65 remix of a song written by psych-folkie Castanets. Continuing in the spirit of collaboration, the pair passed beats and raps back and forth, eventually enlisting Ryan Lott of Son Lux to dream Beak & Claw into fruition in 2012, released then on the Anticon Records under the moniker s/s/s, and later renaming as Sisyphus and releasing a self-titled album in 2014, now re-issuing digitally on Asthmatic Kitty Records.
While this EP comprises a mere four songs, each covers a 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 Sufjan, cresting with the darkly detailed raps of Geti, and closing in a hail of crashing cymbals, orchestral glitch and haunted coos from Ryan Lott of 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.
Shara Nova of My Brightest Diamond lends “If This is Real” its Andrews Sister-like chorus, an immaculate contrast to the aural chaos that eventually overtakes the song. Meanwhile, Doseone (Subtle, Themselves) lends a similar buoyancy to “Octomom,” an electro-spackled, mostly spoken piece that plays like a Laurie Anderson track for the reality television generation (also featuring jaw harp and harmonica by Ohio folk vet Hal Walker). Because of its subject matter, this final song goes a long way to illustrating Beak & Claw‘s strange magic. Geti’s humor and humanity are matched by playfulness and poignancy every step of the way. In the end, sublime confluence prevails.