Today Minneapolis-based electronic quintet POLIÇA and European orchestral collective s t a r g a z e announce their debut collaborative album. The two bands met for the first time in Berlin in 2016, and while the collaboration started in the same room, the process continued as an 18-month long "ping pong" match as the bands exchanged ideas and music over email, mp3 files, video conferencing, and the occasional meet-up in Berlin, Minneapolis, and Eau Claire. Both bands were adamant that whatever they created "not just be POLIÇA songs with s t a r g a z e pasted on top," as POLIÇA vocalist Channy Leaneagh puts it, and the end result is the most adventurous and forward-thinking music either group has made to date. Music For The Long Emergency will be released on February 16th viaTotally Gross National Product/Transgressive. Pre-order the album HERE, and see below for album artwork and tracklisting.
The album's first single is the sublime, 10-minute epic "How Is This Happening." Written by Leaneagh the day after Trump's election, and shared with the collective the day prior to POLIÇA and s t a r g a z e's live debut in St. Paul, "How Is This Happening" is the only track on the album where the words and melody came before the music. The writing process for this song was incredibly therapeutic for the band as they were reeling from the news. "That was an example of the truly healing effects of making music with your friends," says Leaneagh. "And while it doesn't necessarily make things better, it builds community." A tide of orchestral swells ebb and flow punctuated by off-kilter electronic sounds and strings before Leaneagh's haunted albeit intimate intonation takes hold during the poignant and prevalent chant, "How is this happening?" Listen to the song now via NPR Music.
POLIÇA and s t a r g a z e will take their collaboration on the road early next year. See below to find a show near you, and get your tickets HERE.
Introduced via the Liquid Music project run by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota, with the hope of a cross-genre collaboration, POLIÇA and s t a r g a z e first met in Berlin in 2016 in s t a r g a z e conductor André de Ridder's living room. The occasion was charged with both possibility and trepidation. But what happened in Berlin that day set the tone for the project to come: as the two bands talked, the s t a r g a z e musicians began to improvise strings, brass, woodwind played over a handful of song sketches brought byPOLIÇA's Ryan Olson. "They were not even song structures, just electronic textures," de Ridder says. "And we started playing over them, and we could see how their faces lit up when we played. I guess that's where our minds met."
Lyrically, this is in many ways an album of tensions of sorrow and intense joy, of beauty and confusion. "It's about those contradictions in life," Leaneagh says. "How you can be going through tragedy, never-ending wars, but you still also are dealing with human relationships and love and romantic troubles." It is a reflection of the strange and sudden darkening of our times. "Everybody in s t a r g a z e and POLIÇA is a little older. I grew up in a time in America that was before the internet, in a time when the schools in America were the least segregated that they'd ever been. In a time when we had turned towards progress after the era of Jim Crow, and lynching, and the Ku Klux Klan. And we're back in that right now in America. And in a lot of places in Europe too. We had our hands on progress and then it flipped. So the songs deal with that, lyrically, and musically they do too with the idea that we're still human beings and we're trying to find happiness and the love of our lives, or a career to be happy about, but then we're also trying to find world peace and end racism."
What started as a simple collaboration has become something vital for both s t a r g a z e and POLIÇA. Having worked with an extraordinary variety of musicians, from Owen Pallett to Julia Holter via Matthew Herbert, Mica Levi and Deerhoof, s t a r g a z e is well-versed in genre-hopping. The project was also particularly appealing for POLIÇA's Leaneagh, who is a classically trained musician. While projects like these can often be mediocre one-offs, with the separate artist's returning to their own work when it's over, that is not the case for this pair. "This one really feels different," explains de Ridder. "We all feel we're different people for it. And we're going to keep reconnecting. We're going to be touring this album, and new ideas are happening and these residencies are spreading and we're introducing other musicians to each other, so there's a real legacy that's come out of it. We feel we're going to be good friends and colleagues for the rest of our lives."
1. Fake Like
3. Speaking Of Ghost
6. How Is This Happening
7. Music For The Long Emergency
2/15 - North Adams, MA @ MASS MoCA
2/17 - New York, NY @ Symphony Space at Peter Jay Sharp Theatre
2/18 - Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace *
2/19 - Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
2/21 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
2/22 - Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
2/23 - Cincinnati, OH @ Contemporary Arts Center
2/27 - London, UK @ Oval Space
* solo POLIÇA show