Divide and Dissolve’s new album Systemic examines the systems that intrinsically bind us and calls for a system that facilitates life for everyone. It’s a message that fits with the band’s core intention: to make music that honours their ancestors and Indigenous land, to oppose white supremacy, and to work towards a future of Black and Indigenous liberation.
Saxophonist and guitarist Takiaya Reed comments, “This music is an acknowledgement of the dispossession that occurs due to colonial violence,” She continues, “The goal of the colonial project is to separate Indigenous people from their culture, their life force, their community and their traditions. The album is in direct opposition to this.”
Like its predecessor Gas Lit, Systemic was produced by Ruban Neilson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and arrives on all formats through Invada on June 30th and is preceded by the lead single and video “Blood Quantum” which calls into question the violent process of verification of identity.
You can feel the deep intention in Divide and Dissolve’s music. Their dense sound is overwhelmingly heavy; a dissonant pounding of percussion, guitars, piano, synths and saxophone, interwoven with passages of orchestral beauty that give a feeling of respite.
“The heaviness is really important,” Takiaya says. “It’s congruent with the message of the music, and the heaviness feels emblematic of this world’s situation.”
Systemic was recorded as a duo and Takiaya says this new album is a continuation of 2021’s acclaimed Gas Lit. “Because of what was built with ‘Gas Lit’, ‘Systemic’ is able to express itself.”
In Systemic, Divide and Dissolve reflect deeply on the systems that perpetuate colonial violence. The album reflects on systems that facilitate a better future. “The album is a prayer to our ancestors,” Takiaya says. “A prayer for land to be given back to Indigenous people, and for future generations to be free from this cycle of violence.”
As Takiaya emphasises, it’s crucial for their music to be instrumental. “I believe in the power of non-verbal communication,” she continues, “A huge percent of communication is non-verbal. We learn so much without using words.” The exception to this on the album is one spoken word track, “Kingdom of Fear”, that features writer and artist Minori Sanchiz-Fung who also contributed to previous Divide and Dissolve albums. The band’s choice to include Minori’s words is purposeful and important to their message (excerpt below):
If I am denied
Needed to transform sorrow
If I am denied
The simple gentleness
Then I will leave
Like lichen over the oak branches,
trusting they’ll be safe
Until you find them
Systemic is a thick wash of sound, equal parts beauty and anguish and creates a wholly encompassing experience for even a casual listener.
The message of positivity is conveyed in Systemic’s final track “Desire”: a beautiful, multi-layered euphony of sound that feels like a beacon of hope. “There’s a world I want to live in, and I’m going to continue to focus on that world,” Takiaya says. “Indigenous people are here. With our existence it challenges the colonial constructs that call for genocide. We are still alive.”
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