On Music for the Long Emergency, a fruitful and interesting collaboration between Poliça and s t a r g a z e, genres and styles jump around, without it ever sounding confusing
Released on Transgressive Records, Music for the Long Emergency sees Poliça collaborate with s t a r g a z e, a group of orchestral musicians based in Berlin. First glimpses of these blend of forces was in February 2016 in Berlin during the Liquid Music project hosted by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, linking together on Bruise Blood: Reimagining Steve Reich’s ‘Music for Pieces of Wood’ so this has been an album a while in the creating.
There’s no set feel to this album, no formulaic style to each track. From the opening track ‘Fake Like’ you’re lulled into a laidback mood. The bass thumps leisurely through this song, Channy Leaneagh’s vocals soothe and the strings give somewhat of an instant uplift. A Sunday morning feel. Out of nowhere suddenly you’re shaken violently into an abyss in ‘Marrow’. Jarring strings and angry brass with rampaging vocals, it doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy feeling, and I love that. The synth and orchestral backing are the perfect stark reality to this track.
‘Speaking of Ghost’ once again shifts tack and with the French horn, clarinet and flute opening, almost sounding film score like unsettles the listener who wants to pigeon hole this album, the opening then changes mood again with a groove with imploring vocals and less aggression. Interspersed with brass and string chords with the drums playing a key role this is one cool track.
‘Agree’, lacks the impact of the other tracks for me, from the repetitive opening the music leads to a ‘pop’ like feel in texture, chords and vocals. The vocals are excellent though.
The album front cover, looks sixties chic in style, a stark hospital cafeteria, looking polished yet abandoned. ‘Cursed’ is very indicative of this image, punk like, with strong pleading vocals amidst an angry rap, strings play a pivotal role in this with tremolo effects. This would be one to hear and see live. Uncomfortable in nature but very compelling.
‘How is this happening’ is an epic track in all of it’s 10-minute glory. Minimalistic in instrumental accompaniment, with ambient effects of synth and sustained brass and strings chords.
The title track ‘Music for the Long Emergency’ has messages of bleakness, peaking with regular toll of the piano, strong synth motifs and discordant instrumental passages interwoven are moments of hope from vocals, this track inspired by the book by James Kunstler, ‘The Long Emergency’ a compelling look at how the world will fare once the oil runs dry and the struggle to overcome the utter reliance on fossil fuels and uncertainty on the future of the world’s population. This track depicts the starkness and bleakness but drops in the hope that is the human spirit in adversity.
This album is certainly a very fruitful collaboration and explorative in nature. Future work will surely be welcomed. The whiplash effect of moving from one style and feel to an entire opposite, is very refreshing.