ux Prima is the first collaboration between Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and Karen O and boy, is it slick. Though the idea was in the pipeline as long ago as 2008, it did not materialise till 2016, after the birth of Karen’s son Django.
The coming together of these two artistes, already established in their respective circles, has resulted in something truly unique. In April, the two also plan on recreating the album in an art installation setting ‘An Encounter with Lux Prima’ that will premiere in Los Angeles. Recently, they performed ‘Woman’ on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which was directed by Spike Jonze.
For Karen O, it’s embracing her vulnerable, more mellow side, a transition from her loud, punk-rock Yeah Yeah Yeahs days, also displayed in her 2014 debut solo album Crush Days. It’s not entirely surprising because she has, over the years, displayed fluidity in her craft – whether it’s collaborating with indie musicians like Flaming Lips and Swans or featuring in multiple film and television music scores (one of which bagged her Grammy and Oscar nominations).
The Grammy-winning Burton, has always chosen to live on the edge, hopping across genres and leaving a trail of treats along the way. He came into the limelight with Grey Album, an amalgamation of Jay Z’s Black Album and The Beatles’ seminal White Album. He has also worked with the likes of MF Doom as Danger Doom, Cee Lo Green as one half of Gnarls Barkley, Black Keys, Damon Albarn of the Gorillaz…you get the gist.
Lux Prima (‘first light’) as a whole has a very dreamy, cinematic quality to it. The duo take you across a journey over the course of forty odd minutes, which begins with a nine-minute long eponymous track and wraps up with ‘Nox Lumina’ (‘night light’).
‘Lux Prima’ resonates a Pink Floyd-like psychedelic vibe, which is blended into trip-hop style beats. The string instruments, the digital organ and a choir add to the drama. The vocals are pure and delicate as Karen sings about getting lost into nothingness. ‘Ministry’ is much more tender, with her voice complementing the softness of the guitar. “It’s been a song that’s kind of been like almost a therapeutic song for me to listen to since we wrote it. It’s a warm place for me,” Karen had told NPR.