Tag Archives: An Island called Earth

Emperor Yes: An Island Called Earth

12 Dec

“People like to say, always sing about what you know. So we sing about science and history. They also say, put in your vinyl what you love to most. So we put a piece of outer space that collided with earth in the 16th century. Science and history.” Emperor Yes, on their BandCamp page

An Island Called Earth is the first album this year to have me grinning from ear to ear.

An Island Called EarthEmperor Yes combines euphoric, upbeat synth with lyrics relaying interesting scientific and historical facts. It’s a lot like the slick electronic music most indie kids are into these days, but packed with great conversation starters – there’s only so much you can say about heartbreak and existential crisis in the 21st Century, after all.

“Wasps” – made known as the theme song for the QI podcast, No Such Thing as a Fish – is about how honeybees can defend themselves against Japanese giant hornets by swarming the hornet and vibrating together, raising their collective body temperature enough to cook the hornet in a kind of convection oven. “Carl Sagan” tells us how “Carl Sagan calculated [that] the number of probable planets in the universe is ten billion trillion”, and “Paramesse to Tanis” is based on how in 1060 BC, the Egyptian city of Pi-Ramesses – including stone structures like statues – was moved 20km to the North to follow the shifting Nile tributary on which the city depended.

Tramsmitted through Emperor Yes’ music, these pieces of information take on a poignancy you don’t often find in science or history textbooks, though. The bees in “Wasps” sing:

It’s time to get together,
show what we can do
You hold onto me
and I’ll hold onto you

“Carl Sagan” concludes “so even if we’re really not alone, in all practical terms we are”, and the upbeat chorus of “Paramesse to Tanis” proclaims:

If you help me pull this mountain across the burning desert
If you help me, there’s nothing we cannot do.

The uncommon combination of hip electronica with unpretentious history and science geeking, as well as the refreshing inclusion of emotive upliftment in conversations about science, make Emperor Yes delightfully unique.

An Island Called Earth is not currently available in South Africa via iTunes or Amazon, but you can listen to it on their bandcamp page, or have a go at acquiring one of their space-infused vinyls.