Lux Prima, the collaborative album from singer/songwriter and hurricane voiced Karen O and beat-master/producer Danger Mouse, is a sonically cataclysmic collision of the most darkly-lush kind. To be fair, there’s probably not a soul alive that might’ve—or even should’ve—expected anything less. Karen O, with all her vocal acrobatics and the ability of that howl of hers to make a person simultaneously weep and rage—and that kind of dynamo of raw emotion, in the hands of Danger Mouse, was always going to be something to be in awe of. But that doesn’t make the journey through it any less jaw-dropping.
In a span of forty-minutes the duo have squeezed in a vast and rapturous collection of soundscapes that are as much their own complex, dizzying worlds as they are one cohesive mixture of bustling life. On the eponymous album-opener alone—a nine minute cascade of sound hauntingly beautiful sound—your ear is taken from the sci-fi-noir crescendo of surging electronica-tones and carried into the familiar cradle of Karen’s ethereal croons; backed no less by a melancholic melody of bluesy-riffs and zig-zagging string gorgeousness. Then there’s the kinetic cymbal-crashings of “Woman,” a fiery rocket-shot that sees Karen dive right into that familiarly unhinged ardor that overtakes most Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs. But it’s the moments that the duo appear alienated from their past projects that is the album’s biggest generosities.
Whether it’s Karen ruminating in her euphonious murmurs against a lucid tangle of glowing guitar lines and acoustic strums that occurs in “Ministry,” or in “Drown,” where a slow-burner of tambourine punctured percussion beats and warbling orchestral instrumentation come together to engulf the singer’s voice in its murky dreamscape. It’s in these moments that Karen’s vocals are less a transmitter of words and more just another sound-piece in the duo’s arsenal of noise—and that isn’t to say that the singer’s soul-ripping shouts and coos are lost in the background. They strut in gleaming ferocity on “Turn The Light,” bouncing forward down all the spinning alleys of groovy guitar medleys and funk-steady beats that she moves in a blur past. In burns like a lit fuse on “Redeemer,” a hard-as-nails, smokey rock track that Karen is absolutely dancing in the fire in—amongst all those damned, flutteringly saucy end-riffs as well.
Lux Prima shines in a number of ways—from the unexpected merging of Karen’s stellar vocals with otherworldly seances of sound to its measured, tactful approach in what could’ve easily just ended-up being a Yeah Yeah Yeahs album produced by Danger Mouse. Instead, the collaboration highlights the talents of both in off-beat ways—and it’s all the better for it. Danger Mouse drops Karen into soundscapes that range from blood-boiling, dance-frantic pieces to eerie, cruising the star-scape a-la “2001: A Space Odyssey” melodies—and she burns every single one right to the core.
Lux Prima is out now via BMG and available on all streaming platforms. The album is available digitally, on CD and gatefold LP with exclusive merchandise bundles from the artist store. Get it here. The album is available on vinyl with a linen wrapped, foil stamped gatefold jacket and a fold out poster!