Travelling Through Waves of Calm, Unruly Revolutions Emerge
- Reviewed by Olive Annalise -
You’d assume that with the pandemic at the forefront of our lives, a song about it would be the last thing anyone would want. It’s already taken our venues, our festivals, our businesses, and in Cusi Coyllur’s (Shannen Roberts) case, it’s infiltrated the music itself. ‘Welcome To Our War’ is the haunting and unapologetic latest single from Coyllur, comprehensively filling me with dread but still, somehow, inviting us to bop whilst doing so.
Right off the bat, Cusi hits us with her melodic and temperamental voice; a wake up call alerting us that we will not finish listening to this song with a smile on our faces or joy in our hearts. Her voice, and the way she uses it, haunts its listeners throughout the entirety of the song. She travels through waves of calm, articulate singing, to suddenly becoming unruly, powerful and tumultuous. Accompanying it, Cusi records vocal track upon vocal track of harmonies, collecting together to imitate the soft and soothing sound of a string quartet. It's quiet, but it's prominent; forever building.
Although her whispered harmonies are gentle and soft, their distinct juxtaposition from her main vocals provoke spells of unease. Her intuitive, purposeful production style does not go unnoticed. The compression used on lyrics
Not with guns
But by staying home instead
evokes this quasi-broadcast effect, governing its audience with uncertain and unhelpful survival techniques. Her use of a childish, innocent voice connotes the naivety and hypocrisy of this message. Having this section become more convoluted and effects-heavy towards the end, panning from left to right, becoming an echo within an echo of itself, is completely profound. Cusi’s use of the stereo field to build tension and a sense of claustrophobia truly shows her creativity throughout all aspects of the music making process, rounding up the song with chills and a shocking sense of emptiness.
Coyllur, being the fantastic lyrical artist and mental health advocate that she is, manages to respectively use this pandemic that has affected everyone in one way or another, to shed light on the everyday war going on in many of our minds. Her constant comparison of the effects of coronavirus and mental health are piercing: we are all "invisbly ill" but those suffering with mental health are
The most prepared
Been fighting our whole lives
Intruders that can’t be seen
But a personal highlight lands in the second chorus. Adds an element of spoken word poetry, exploring themes of poverty, immigration, disability, capitalism (the list goes on) injustice sits is at the forefront of her lyricism:
No no, we just need to work harder
Or go back to our country
Now that your money can’t buy off this intruder
and the pandemic becomes utilised allegorically in service of this. A chorus of voices with an almost robotic and surreal effect manages to push the song into more depth, adding extra meaning to the lyrics at the front of the mix. I love that these words are quieter than the broadcasting vocal track, suggesting that minorities aren’t cared for by the government, and refuse to be cared for during the pandemic. After all, our governments didn't acknowledge any problems with the system until the virus started
Attacking able-bodied people
Now defined our system as broken,
Needing to be fixed
The poor and ill already knew this,
Did you listen?
All that can be said now is, well, did you?
- great -
Olive Annalise is a music production student from Bristol whose interests include poetry, sound design and film. In her spare time, she indulges in wine mom humor and enjoys telling people she can speak French, although her Duolingo owl would disagree.
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fleet Foxes shill.
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