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Siinai - Olympic Games CD (album) cover





3.75 | 7 ratings

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4 stars Tracey Emin and some of her Turner Prize cohorts have designed a selection of posters to promote the 2012 London Olympics. One or two of these posters are classically inspired but most seem to have little connection to the games and indeed might have carried titles such as 'Lazy Swirl of Blue', 'Pastel Gift Wrap' and 'BBC Test Card'. In contrast the artwork for 'Olympic Games', Finnish four-piece Siinai's 2011 debut album, honours the games with its iconic imagery of the five Olympic rings within a stylised podium, arguably more in keeping with the ancient Olympic ideal of 'excellence in art and literature' as opposed to the unfinished-looking pieces inspired by the London event.

The music also reflects the nature of the games and throughout the album Siinai weave together strands of Kraut and Post-Rock with a fine pop sensibility. The serene opening part of 'Anthem 1 & 2' captures the sense of excitement, anticipation and stored-up energies of the heaving mass of humanity gathering for the heroic rituals, before it suddenly breaks loose into anarchic Post-Punk life with enough power to shake the Olympic stadium to its very foundations.

Rebelliousness gives way to reverence on 'Anthem 3', a languid hymn to the Twelve Olympian gods that's shrouded in hypnotic choral effects. This is followed by 'Marathon' which crackles along rhythmically with chugging guitar and burbling electronics, but sounds more like a short sprint than Philippides' long distance runaround from Athens to Sparta on the eve of the victorious battle of Marathon. The album continues in this vein and basically follows an alternating pattern of slow and brisk tracks to either physic or physical oneself by.

As well as sports and arts, the modern games have other links to the ancient Olympics. Through the gathering of different peoples, and through their self-discipline and determination, the revival of the Olympic Games was intended to bring international peace and harmony, prestige and glory. However the games continue to be used as a political tool in the same way that the ancient Greek city-states used them to dominate rivals. 'Strength over wisdom' still holds true and the act of simply taking part in events is no longer the important issue; how many slimy paws were greased to ensure London was awarded the games?

As well as that question, consider some of the track-titles on this album. While thousands of bells will ring out in celebration on the first day of the 2012 London Olympics, 'Munich 1972' revives the paralysing horror of the (black) September massacre with a synthesized assault of gunfire and dissonant chaos. 'Olympic Fire' alludes to the Olympic flame that commemorates Prometheus' theft of fire and thus represents the fight for freedom, but the dark edginess of the track's mysterious siren-call synthesizers might also recall the torch relay ritual - the torch of hatred - which was exploited by Nazi propaganda as an emblem of Aryan supremacy. However 'Victory' restores the balance with something of the melody and feel of 'Chariots of Fire' before it erupts into a joyous celebration of the human spirit.

Perhaps the struggle is still greater than the victory after all.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |


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