On the surface, POLIÇA and s t a r g a z e are worlds apart.
POLIÇA are a synth pop group from Minneapolis, whose artful insights seem drawn from the catalogues of Tears For Fears, or Kate Bush.
Yet when the American project crossed paths with Berlin avant classical ensemble s t a r g a z e the two collectives found they had much in common.
Ideas quickly sparked, and the two reinterpreted Steve Reich’s 1973 composition Music For Pieces Of Wood for release on Transgressive last year.
Now the dual-ensembles have reunited, working on new studio album 'Music For The Long Emergency'.
A collision between group improvisation and striking, bold songwriting, the full length is a remarkably concise, cohesive entity.
Here, members of POLIÇA and s t a r g a z e break down the new album...
- - -
- - -
'Fake Like' (André de Ridder)
By far the lightest, most playful track of the album, as an opener 100% deceptive of what’s to come. We discussed this, and I was really adamant that it should come later in the tracklist, and serve as a kind of a relief between heavier, more complex songs but now I can see how it works, a gateway, deceptive it may be but a gem of a song nevertheless.
There is such a lot of space in the arrangement, which we were careful to keep - having a seven-piece orchestral ensemble doesn't mean you have to use everyone all the time for the make of it, you still have to serve the song. We spent ages working out the use and arrangement of an instrumental hook that Ryan had at the very top of the song initially and we later we picked it up with all the instruments (under the second half of the second verse) but playing it like a canon that becomes more spectral as it goes on.
Once we’d found it, Ryan just erased that melody from the beginning…I call that "withholding-tactics." He is a master editor - and composer. Learned a lot from him during this whole process.
'Marrow' (Channy Leaneagh)
This is stream-of-conscious which means my mind is talking through its connections. When we were recording United Crushers there was a cat named Nilo hanging around the studio and the studio was located on a pecan farm that would flood the fields with green fertilizer a couple times a week, which then morphed into a slimey brown mote around us and it felt environmentally unsound and hazardous... and so then I wrote a song about really nothing exactly but many things specifically.
'Speaking Of Ghost' (André de Ridder)
A personal favourite. Possibly the most satisfying result of our collaboration and really fun to play. I love the song. How the wind instruments open with this very free, melancholic call-like melody, which appears like an intro but then later it becomes part of the chorus…
Again there’s eerie space and almost silence as we enter the first verse, contrasted by the more full-on instrumental passages to follow, most notably a break of a kind of serene-like meltdown where the drums stop and the instruments glide up and down, intensely resulting in a climax where chorus and cascading strings meet and mix and blossom. It ends though, as if it was all a wild hallucination, with the eerie atmosphere of the beginning and all quite open.
'Agree' (Channy Leaneagh)
Being good to you while losing me. I feel you too much. Your body is heavy on the end of the bed; my body lying away from me; tense and protective; turning as far from you as I can. I’m hungover from feeling every need and desire of you.
Distant walls of my coldness sliding in on this moment between us. I feel you too much. I don’t want to have any feelings to talk about. There’s a loss of boundaries as a small child and then every metal fence we build is either too tall or not built fast enough. I do love you but love just takes.
Creating a space for myself and you to exist as we used to; confident, embolden by our own desires. Creating together for the creation of it! Yes I miss being a co-worker. But that’s not how I lust and I have made lifetimes of memories with you in just these days.
'Cursed' (Channy Leaneagh)
The cool thing about 'Cursed' is it’s the first song Alexei Casselle (aka Crescent Moon of Kill the Vultures) and I have worked on together since our band Roma di Luna broke up. But now Roma is back together and I feel like working together on this song was one of the pieces in moving us back to making music together again.
'How Is This Happening' (André de Ridder)
This happened almost on the eve of our first show together and spontaneously, and Channy will have more to say about it, but it was a beautifully spontaneous moment at that stage of rehearsals: her bringing in this idea which she wrote during the previous night, only words and a melody.
And then us just turning into it really, to support it and carry it. I have no recollection how this then developed into what is essentially a second part of the song, an epic, quite weary instrumental lament as I would call it, as befits the subject, and it has the feel of a funeral march also which is supported by the strings hitting the (actual) strings with the wood of the bows which results in a kind of cluttering bounce to the slow rhythm…
'Music For The Long Emergency' (Channy Leaneagh)
Do you find you wake up tired, are always tired, after you eat you feel more tired, are easily irritated, depressed, anxious about the state of the world, prone to rage, can feel the collective suffering on the planet but yet feel crushed by our lack of control against corporate greed and monstrous disparity in the haves and have-nots, work so hard yet can’t pay your bills? ...Yes, says everyone. Are we watching America crumble or are we narcissistic in our world view (yes!)? We are crumbling interpersonally as lovers, you and I.
When we make good things we can’t be good to each other; when I care for you I lose my colors and melodies; that’s where this relationship bullshit has got us wrong - we care by making with each other; you don’t need me to kiss your lips. Creating in purity; snuffing out our needs and comforts. Everything is urgent; everything is ending - I cannot calm these emergencies in my lifetime for sure; that’s ridiculous! They were here long before me.
Why should I make anything at all when there are wounds to wrap? It’s beautiful to create without the future in mind; I make you to let you go. I make you for no one.
- - -
'Music For The Long Emergency' is out now on Transgressive.
Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.