My Education

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Written by: DR on 13/11/2010 17:13:32

"Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" is a silent film, originally released in 1927. It depicts the tale of a farmer, his neglected wife, and his mistress in the city; *this whole paragraph is one giant spoiler* the mistress, in order to maintain their happiness together, convinces the farmer to kill his wife - he agrees to do so, by drowing her. However, his conscience gets the better of him. His wife realises what he was attempting to do and escapes to the city - the farmer goes after her and wins her back, only for her to be thrown overboard on the journey back home. The farmer, conviced she has drowned, and now blinded by a murderous rage, goes after the mistress, finds her, and starts to choke her - he then discovers that his wife is actually alive, and the film ends with them kissing as they disolve into the sunrise.

The octet My Education have decided with "Sunrise...", their fifth album so far, to compose, what they intend to be, the soundtrack for the aforementioned film. A film plot such as that would imply a range of powerful themes, including: lust, betrayal, shame, remorse, anger, and love, which My Education handle well and actually succeed in conveying those themes through their music, inevitably invoking emotion within the listener. They and their approach have clearly been influenced by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, although they possess a more cinematic feel to them (obviously appropriate). They have also reduced that influence into more compact song compositions - GY!BE were famous for incredibly lengthy songs, if you didn't already know. "Sunrise" has seven songs and is 44 minutes long, but, remarkably, that is still relatively quite short.

There's a dreary opener in "Sunset", initially there doesn't appear to be much going on, but through the use of a cello, viola and acoustic guitar - which they remain fond of throughout the album - they slowly build up to create the promise of hope. "City Woman" has a slow-burning intensity; it's the most sinister sounding of all the tracks, until the half-way point when the musicianship starts to possess more urgency, and suddenly things start reflecting the dangerous nature of their relationship. "Lust" furthers the dark turn the farmer is taking; it is the longest song and appears in the middle of the album - clearly, a deliberate ploy by My Education to present lust as central to the film itself. "Oars" is driven by the swell of soaring guitars, gradually becoming more threatening, "Peasant Dance" is the most upbeat track and thus reflects the confusion of the farmer and his wife as they are lost in the foreign world of the city, with the help of jazzy interludes. "A Man Alone" is six minutes of daunting atmospherics, nothing more, which is self-explanatory I feel. Closer "Sunrise" doesn't end on an uplifting crescendo which promises a bright, beautiful future of renewed love as I was expecting, but instead ends more in the way that it begun - with a promise of hope for the farmer and his wife.

I would completely miss the point of this album if I was to suggest you listen to one track more than another as "Sunrise" is best approached as a cohesive work with seperate songs and individual titles merely to reflect the mood each song has to offer. It's 45 minutes of carefully considered and crafted music that, in a way, achieves what it set out to do: to be a soundtrack. But ultimately, the soundtrack very, very rarely steals attention away from the movie itself, however good it may be, and "Sunrise" is not really much different.

Download: all of it
For The Fans of: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mono, Balmorhea
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 25.06.2010
Golden Antenna

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