Record of the Week

Colin Self „Siblings“ (RVNG Intl.)

Colin Self
(RVNG Intl.)

„Pack your things, we leave tonight, in the shadow of the night“,sings the composer and choreographer Colin Self, who lives in New York and Berlin, on “Survival”, the first single from his album “Siblings”. “Survival” is a captivating song about fears, but also about courage. The courage to flee first – and then to resist. Something we can all draw from the interaction with one another and about our lives, underpinned by synth-pop that caresses the kitsch.

Colin Self’s music is first and foremost his haunting voice, which in its variety of expression is hard to grasp and which is able to open up an endless and stimulating spectrum of emotions_ from artificially unreal to tearfully vulnerable to dolefully aggressive. If this voice leaves you cold, you have long ago sold your humanity to the shadow beings.

But it is not just his voice that makes Colin Self’s second album (the debut “Elation” was released in 2015) so magically appealing, it is also Self´s unification with his own universe of sounds that makes infinity even more infinite. In an era, where everyone wants to set the future to music, where most of them are overstretching themselves with artificial intelligence ambitions and futuristic sounds in equal measure, and thereby creating only dull mediocrity, Self convinces us while challenging us. This is already evident in the first track of the album, “Story”, which just splinters and booms apocalyptically, but still you feel drawn in.

The dramaturgic finesse of Colin Self, that is also reflected in his intensive shows, which are more theatre than classical performance or concert (most recently in Germany at the Hebbel am Ufer Theatre as part of the CTM Festival featuring a choir and a string ensemble), is already evident in the way he leads us through the album. The digital brutality of “Story” is followed by “Foresight”, a song that can hardly be located, somewhere in no man’s land made up of choral chants and African traditionals – and an ending that is so dramatic that it could compete with a Hollywood blockbuster if it wanted to.

“I used to live as an anomaly… no explanation biologically”, Colin Self sings so wonderfully poetic and yet clearly identifying the realities a little later on “Survival”. At the center of “Siblings”, which is the final act of Self´s six-part opera series “Elation”, is a non-biological family and their common journey across the badly affected earth. We have the choice with whom we spend our short time on this planet, and to what or whom we say “yes” or “no”. It is not for nothing that the last song of this fantastic album, to which there is so much more to say, is called “The Great Refusal”.

Translation by Denise Oemcke.

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