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Poliça and s t a r g a z e
Music For The Long Emergency Aimee Armstrong , February 20th, 2018 16:15

A fitting response to Trump turmoil, and plenty more.

Right from the title, Music For The Long Emergency sounds like a fitting score for the Trump age. “How is this happening?” goes the penultimate track, written in the days following Trump’s election. This collaborative project between Minneapolis synth pop group Poliça and Berlin-based orchestra s t a r g a z e is a joining of forces against the fear and despondency of the past two years in the US and Europe: “We had our hands on progress,” as they put it. “And then it flipped.”

Opener ‘Fake Like’ is a dose of sugary bouncing art-pop glossed with cherubic strings and Channy Leaneagh’s sweet vocals. But from the almost-optimism of that track, we are hurled into a spiral of unease. The string arrangements on ‘Marrow’ are theatrically chilling, injecting urgency into the record’s bones; it puts s t a r g a z e at the forefront of the record. The orchestra have collaborated with Poliça in the past, on a reinterpretation of Steve Reich’s ‘Music For Pieces Of Wood’, and is led by Andre De Ridder, who’s previously worked with artists as disparate as Julia Holter, Gorillaz, Max Richter and These New Puritans. (The darkest moments here are not dissimilar to parts of TNP’s 2013 record Field Of Reeds.) The collaboration works wonders for both artists, as the textural beauty of Poliça is expanded with the added depth that s t a r g a z e bring.

The record continually evolves, perhaps a consequence of the organic improvisation; the sporadic detours of strings and horns function that function as the record’s consciousness giving it a constant unpredictability, something absent from much of Poliça’s back catalogue. Winding instrumental parts, to an extent improvised, make sure that this record is as stark as it is soothing.

While a record could never be the answer to Trump, Music For The Long Emergency does a good job of sonically deconstructing Trump-turmoil. It’s about “the truly healing effects of making music with your friends," as Leaneagh puts it. “And while it doesn’t necessarily make things better, it builds community.”

Poliça and s t a r g a z e play the Oval Space in London on 27 February.