by Rebecca Satellite
There's something about the Great Lakes region (perhaps those brutal winters) that seems to be a breeding ground for excellent noise rock. While I had previously associated this particular musical export with Minneapolis and Chicago (think Buildings, Tongue Party, Ribbonhead, Salvation), it turns out Michigan is just as strong an incubator for the disgruntled among us. Grand Rapids based outfit, Sojii, delivers its distinct flavor of dissatisfaction in the video for “Adagio,” premiered here.
The brainchild of lead guitarist/vocalist Valerie Salerno since 2015, Sojii’s personnel on this song includes Danny Sein (bass) and Donny Olin (drums). In keeping with the group’s musical lineage, “Adagio” was engineered by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago, and appears on the band’s self-titled album, Sojii.
As the video opens, we take the position of a voyeur let in on a secret. Accompanied by a backdrop of slow, repetitive Birthday Party-esque bass, sparse drums, and flares of bristly guitar, a group of disaffected Y2K-era millennials guides us into what appears to be a barn, but quickly turns any notion of the pastoral on its head. The scene changes from eerie to maniacal, as Salerno’s chants of “stay humble, drink my blood / We can all wear burlap” boil over into a screeching, cacophonous rapture of violence and revelry.
“Adagio” manages to tackle a dazzling array of themes and in the same breath deliver a hypnotically heavy track that would make The Jesus Lizard raise an eyebrow. There’s a lot to unpack, from the subversion of communion to the repeated line, “all strong things are men,” and Salerno offers insight into the themes at play. "All strong things are men" is the silent incantation every single person on this Earth has, indoctrinated by millennia of patriarch." She continues, “I find that the oppressor (speaking generally) will often use parables exemplifying humility and modesty in the impoverished or "degenerate" to discourage the marginalized from rebelling or even just making a better life for [themselves] than what society feels fit."
”Adagio” flips the narrative, as an all women and non-binary cast (and crew, with the exception of co-director Andy Miller), perform a last supper for each other and no one else. Watch the contained chaos unfold below, and stay tuned for more Sojii in 2019.