Supreme Beings of Leisure
Five years is an eternity in pop culture. Entire music careers can bloom and wither in the accelerated, abbreviated lifespan of the MySpace Era. For Ramin Sakurai and Geri Soriano-Lightwood, the guiding forces behind the Supreme Beings of Leisure, to take such an extended break from the spotlight is more than a bit nervy. There's major risk involved, the kind that only confident and keenly self-aware artists can take.
The duo, whose previous sophomore release, came out in 2002, have grown wiser with age and experience. They mark a seductive and profoundly reflective return to the scene with their new album, 11i. And, yes, agrees Soriano-Lightwood, it's been a long time coming. But it was worth the wait, in more ways than one.
"Ramin and I had started to make this record in 2002," the vocalist and lyricist says, "but both of us had family issues. While recording the first two albums, every major event that could happen happened. I got married. I had a kid. I lost both my parents. Also, I was completely burned out by the end of our tour for the second record [Divine Operating System]. It was like hitting a wall. So we took a break and chilled out for awhile."
During that time, she notes, the world of electronic pop – call it what you will – has gone through all kinds of evolutions. "It's funny," Soriano-Lightwood says, "because it's totally changed. When we first came out, people would say to the band: 'You guys can't perform without a drummer.' So we got a drummer. But now you go out to a club and it's just a couple of people with laptops! So we pretty much try to come up with our own thing ... something timeless."
Both Soriano-Lightwood and Sakurai, who programs the music and plays a variety of instruments, needed time away from the business to deal with some of life's major transitions, the life and death stuff that connotes the passage into full-grown adulthood. As the pair gradually returned from their private lives to the task of making a new Supreme Beings record, it was a given that these life changes would surface in Soriano-Lightwood's lyrics. As she explains, the songs she began writing reflected all of this as a "sort of a psychological journey through my head."
That extends to the album's title, which alludes to the duo's mutual fascination with the number 11. The disc has 11 tracks, of course - as does every Supreme Beings recording – and as Soriano-Lightwood says, "Ramin and I were both born on '11' days."
But listeners don't necessarily need to engage in numerology to appreciate what the performers communicate here. The words could not be more straightforward, and the richly textured soundscapes resonate with a sensual undertow that pulls you slowly beneath the surface – where there is much to discover.
"We try to reflect what we like and who we are and hopefully this is a byproduct," she says. "People turn to music for a transcendent experience. And depending on your mood, certain things will take you where you want to go. Musicians are modern-day shamans. For some of us, music is the only church we've got."