Divide and Dissolve - Systemic


How to approach a record that is mesmerizing on so many levels, be it musically, “ideologically”, theoretically and emotionally? Well, one thing does not do Divide and Dissolve’s new record Systemic any justice – a track-by-track analysis of the music. Nor the superfluous thought to indicate any genres to this record because above and beyond it’s simple one thing: The best avantgarde record with a true intention this year. Full-Stop. Heard it here first. Album of the Year material!

To make it clear – this record checks so many boxes of what I search for in music. You want crushing riffs and structures? Listen to the beginning of ”Derail” or the harsh intro to its successor ”Simulacra” - both show you that the duo of Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill truly know how to hit it hard. These tracks might not be as fast as Grindcore, but if you recognize that heaviness does not necessarily have anything to do with speed than you will notice that these doomy and gloomy tracks are really good. And if that’s not enough then you should check out the somewhat chaotic beginning of ”Omnipotent”! The way Takiaya’s riffs and Sylvie’s drumming intertwine here amid all this nearly Math-Core-like start to the song becomes even more impressive when listening to the slow take down which becomes much more gentle than expected.

On the other side there are some of the nicest, most sensitive moments on this record that I have heard this year. When the album closer ”Desire” starts with Takiaya’s beautiful saxophone line which is then accompanied by some really wonderful string lines and which gives the record a somewhat hopeful ending – remarkable when considering what the record is all about, what one of the band’s purposes is all about in a way.

Takiaya is half Cherokee and half African-American and Sylvie is Māori and thus a lot of their work has a connection to topics of white suppression, a shared colonialist history and the consequences of it for the present and future generations. Most of the duo’s music is instrumental, which does not mean it does not have a voice, which it surely does. And even one that reflects the past – just listen to the beginning of ”Indignation”, a track whose first part is a mirroring of some tunes which we might also get from a Native American band or project, even though it is played on the Saxophone. Is has a certain quality in its sound which reminds me a bit of a lament from a tribe that looks back on the experience it had with the white settlers who pushed them more and more towards the West, robbing them of their dignity, of their home and in some way – also of their future. Interestingly, this band shows that the peoples and tribes who suffered so much under the rule of the whites, even need the latter’s language if they want to show what they have to them - ”Indignation” could even be seen as a context of a “nation” which has been robbed of its “dignity”.

The album features another collaboration with the poet Minori Sanchiz-Fung who they have already worked with on previous releases and every time, Minori also recorded her poems for the record. Her vocals for ”Kingdom of Fear” show again the problematic past relationships between colonialist and the oppressed Natives – and in some way, Minori also comes from a country with such a colonial past, as she was born in Venezuela which of course has been occupied by a European country just like New Zealand or also the Native tribes of North America. The band is searching for the common consequences of such historical experiences, trying to find their own identity and trying to find out how this involuntary life has made a lasting impression on their ancestors and on them as well, as we nowadays know that certain memories are handed down through the generations.

You see, this record, its melodies and its thoughtfulness mean a lot to me even though I might never fully understand what they are talking about. However, I can listen to the harsh riffs, the melancholic elements and also the thought-provoking poetry by Minori. This record hits hard in its emotions and its melodies – and it will spin here very often for the rest of the year and beyond.