By this point you are no doubt familiar with Seattle chip-hop giants Supercommuter. Admittedly, those of us coming at things from the nerdcore side immediately recognize the group's vocalist – Wheelie Cyberman, formally of Optimus Rhyme – but it is equally impossible to discount the contributions of chiptune veteran Andy "Stenobot" Myers to the band's coolly cohesive, techno-organic sound. Interestingly enough, Stenobot recently released an album of his own, and I'll hazard a guess that it's not what you'd expect.
Sink or Swim We'll Go Together is a solo work in name only, as it mines the talents of a number of interesting contributors. You'll likely recognize the dulcet tones of Jen Wood ("Butterfly Wings") from The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights," and former 90 Lb. Wuss frontman Jeff Suffering punks up pseudo title track "Far Too Far." Still, the most interesting aspect of this album is that Andy's own son Julian both provides some percussion and co-wrote most of the songs "in one way or another."
Four-year-old Julian has leukemia, and Sink or Swim We'll Go Together is an album very much about a family's struggle to fight the disease while keeping its own collective spirit intact. It's an amazingly personal album, and from the opening strains of the energetic "Running and Jumping" to the starkly mechanical "Counts," the haunting "Our Bodies Are Fragile" to anthemic closer "Dancing Shadows," it's an amazingly poignant musical study of struggle and hardship and, in spite of it all, hope.
It's available as a free download from local indie label Crunchyco, but more importantly there's also a short-run physical printing that comes with a handmade, hard-bound photo book for a mere $15. All proceeds from the sale of the album go to support the Child's Play charity, because no one understands the hardships facing hospitalized children more than a parent who's lived through it.
I want you to support this cause and to purchase this disc because it's important, but I want you to experience this music because it is beautiful, moving and exquisitely crafted. Sink or Swim We'll Go Together is a chip-pop masterpiece that presents its all-too personal subject matter in just the right light. It neither undersells the important thematic underpinning that childhood disease entails nor does it hide behind its weighty emotional appeal. Herein Stenobot has done what all artists endeavor to do when life takes a turn for the worse – he has turned tragedy into creativity.
Give Sink or Swim We'll Go Together a listen. Not because of what it is, but because of what it does. Because what it does is offer an amazing listening experience. Afterward, if you feel so led, copies of the special edition CD are still available.