Published Nov 20, 2015Oceans Apart is the latest offering from Ghanaian-Canadian singer/songwriter Kae Sun, critically acclaimed for his 2013 Afriyie album. But to view these four songs as a follow-up to that album would be a disservice to its intentions; this eponymous EP is merely one component of Oceans Apart, the multimedia exhibition and short film created alongside Emeka Alams and Simon Rittmeier, which is currently touring across Germany.
So how do we assess what is, by design, an accompaniment? Aesthetically, it is very much a complement to the short film, a split-screen chronicle of strangers in shared spaces growing closer, starring Kae Sun and An-Josefien Falelavaki. Like those spaces, the music serves as a distant backdrop to intimate yearnings: viscous ambience competes with guitars and keys; kicks are deep and sparing; there is solitude, both in performance and invocation, as on "An Eclipse," on which Kae Sun sings he "imagines shadows where people should be."
The songwriting circles around core emotional responses to an imperfect world. The minutiae might be inconsequential, but the poetry of it all is essential — what we are left with is the bigger picture. "It gets better with time, [you] just have to make it through one night," we are told on "Waves Breaking," the most upbeat of the collection. The previously released "Long Walk" juxtaposes droning pads with soul claps as we're asked, "Freedom, are we getting close yet?" before Sun reminds us "if we fight fire with fire, that's my child for your child."
An opus this EP is not, but to fault it for not being more is to ignore what it seeks to be. These four songs of merit, presented as part of a collaborative idea rather than hoarded for a later album, speak to Kae Sun's growing artistry. It also speaks to the current creative gravitational pull towards Berlin, where much of this music was written.
Let's hope Kae Sun can bring some of that influence, and the Oceans Apart exhibit, back to Canada with him. (Urbnet)