A collaboration between the Sleepy Jackson's Luke Steele and Pnau's Nick Littlemore, Empire of the Sun are what happen when two like minds give in to their grandest illusions. While Walking On A Dream is their album, it's also a concept that extends into film, performance, image and whatever cracked ideas they come up with along the way. As an album, however, WOAD exemplifies the kind of genius Steele, at least, has been hinting at with his other band over the years. It's funny then, that this capricious project have struck such an immediate chord. The chemistry of this duo though is undeniable, as they transition through different phases and worlds as often as a season of Star Trek. Their sci-fi whimsy is brought to life by genre dabbling, which manages to harmoniously tie the narrative together through a hysterically exotic landscape. The enchanting title track flawlessly balances Steele's exuberant falsetto and ear for melody with Littlemore's clubbing background, while "Swordfish Hotkiss Night" imagines a Ween/Timbaland collaboration and the sensational wash of MOR balladry, like the Balearic "Country" and the schmaltzy soft rock of "Without You," foster the fantastical visions entirely. As way-out as they wander though, Empire of the Sun never isolate the listener and always ensure that their opus never loses its plot, even though it often teeters.
What's the status on the Sleepy Jackson?
Steele: It's kind of healthy. I'm nearly finished a new album but it's in limbo because I think I'm going to get paid this year with Empire. The demand is so great for this, I feel like a model! I've got so many shoots; they keep me so busy. We're shooting a feature film for the record, so we want to finish that and then start the next record, but we're going to go on the road.
Tell me about the film.
Yeah, we met the Emperor in Shanghai, the Aztecs in Mexico, and we want to go to Africa, Iceland and shoot with the Aborigines. It's like a real life journey that will be narrated and part of the live show, which will be quite theatrical. The videos will be joined together, so it will be like a Flight of the Navigator thing where we fall into portals that lead to the next country and learn about other cultures and so forth. Judging by my acting skills, there will be as little acting as possible.
What do you have planned for the live show?
It's basically going to be the film but live. So it's narrated, lots of projections, more inflatables than a Rolling Stones concert, Swedish girl dancers - a cross between cinema and theatre. (EMI)