Release Date: Mar 20, 2012
Record label: Anticon
“I went to prom with the Octomom,” raps Chicago absurdist Serengeti toward the end of Beak & Claw, a batshit collaborative project featuring indie-pop heartthrob Sufjan Stevens and Anticon producer Son Lux. “She went by her middle name then. ” The track in question, “Octomom,” is a glitchy electro-pop head-scratcher that depicts an awkward teen-turned-adult romance involving one of The National Enquirer’s favorite targets: “We went cosmic bowling / She could roll a hell of a game,” Serengeti reflects, before bumping into the tabloid princess at a local deli: “There were paparazzi everywhere / We laughed like we were teens again, didn’t miss a beat / We started dating, it’s great: Happy stepfather, proud parent of eight.
s / s / sBeak & Claw EP[Anticon; 2012]By Josh Becker; March 26, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweets / s / s - "Museum Day" by anticonTake the romantic stings and catchy choruses from the Illinois era, throw in some crazed electronic percussion, melted synths, rapped verses, and autotuned vocals, and stir. You’ll end up with “Museum Day,” the opening track to Beak & Claw, the collaboration between Sufjan Stevens, Chicago rapper Serengeti, and New York “producer-composer” Son Lux. What we have here, essentially, is a hybrid record that marries Serengeti’s hip-hop background with Sufjan and Son Lux’s singer-songwriter leanings.
Eight years ago, Baroque pop singer Sufjan Stevens dropped Illinois, an album that charted on the Billboard 200 and earned such widespread critical praise for its breathtaking beauty that review aggregate site Metacritic designated it “universally acclaimed.” Back then, it would’ve been difficult to imagine him having anything to do with eccentric rap label Anticon, but somehow that happened, and now we’ve got Beak & Claw. s / s / s is Sufjan with wry rapper Serengeti and electronics maestro Son Lux, an unexpected collaboration, but not as jarring as Kanye West recording with Bon Iver, that’s for sure. Though only four songs, this EP covers a lot of sonic territory and a wide range of emotions.
Unlikely groupings of artists, promising as they seem, rarely yield anything more enduring than a colorful press release. Though it sounds cynical, a roomful of musicians who seem like they have no business being together usually don't, it turns out, and are far more apt to produce a dismaying mess than an unprecedented, illuminating fusion. Over the last five or six years, Sufjan Stevens seems to have suffered a particular weakness for just this sort of collaboration, and his fans, accordingly, have suffered along with him.
In this semi-baffling release, the silk-tongued Sufjan Stevens has collaborated with Chicago hip-hop artist Serengeti and electronic composer Son Lux for four tracks of oddball weirdness. Beak & Claw is largely a showcase for Serengeti's ambling, free-association raps, here set to glitchy electro pop, with mostly silly lyrics. The EP itself feels as if it's either tongue-in-cheek, or a piece of Andy Kaufman-esque anti-comedy.