Luke Sweeney builds a Temple of Song in memoriam of “Rishi”
'Rishi' (Hindi) = sage; seer; teacher
Getting to know the music of Luke Sweeney for the first time is a gift that you ought to give yourself if you’ve never heard his name before. The second best experience to that is experiencing his latest album, “Rishi”, something that makes the term “masterpiece” well worth dusting off and presenting for the occasion because it might very well be his biggest most important, and most meaningful work so far.
Luke Sweeney has been hailed as a “Pillar of San Francisco’s garage-psych community”, and that is no vacuous pomp on anyone’s behalf. you’d be hard-pressed to find a songwriter of his calibre and with such a colourful palette of sounds and influences up his sleeves. Luke Sweeney is a man of vibrant and incisive perspective, unafraid of pop heresies and melodic syncretisms, but it’s the plaintive fundamentals of his troubadour-like lyricism that really set him apart, not only in the already weird woo-woo San Francisco scene but everywhere else he sets a foot in.
Rishi, send me down a Rishi
Send her from the skies
Rishi, come on baby Rishi,
Open my eyes
Sweeney’s off-the-wall meta-pop sound and mystic lyricism have come to a head in his newest album 4 years in the making. “Rishi” is special in more ways than one, certainly because it takes some emotional preparation in order to take it on.
On the 20th of April 2018, Luke Sweeney awoke in the middle of the night to something every parent fears. His infant two-month-old daughter Rishi had stopped breathing. A reality too cruel and too harsh, nothing a human mind can outrun, or the human heart truly bear. The grieving process began, almost complete silence for over a year and Luke was ready to start moving on with his life the only way he truly knew how: By creating music. Turning pain into art.
Those who know Sweeney’s work will attest to the fact that his music is full of a whimsical and almost chaotic charm. He’s not one for dour melodies of particularly mournful tunes, and he too believed it would not befit a homage to his lost daughter that her album should be grim and out-of-character. If Rishi’s short life was a good bit of sunshine, then the album bearing her name would be that as well, at least as far as sound goes.
“Losing a child is a tragedy that no person can truly bear – but the music Rishi brought me after her departure made me fully aware that I was still dancing in her orbit. All this information inspired my construction of a humble temple of songs that is ‘Rishi’: an album that has me still searching, still hurting, but fully convinced of the cosmic connection and deeper purpose that I share not only with my daughter but with every energetic being… as we all flutter like moths to the flame on this plane. ” – L.S.
Musically, “Rishi” is a percolation of a multitude of vibes, from strangely groovy synth-pop to bouts of Jazzy saxophone intermissions to more than the occasional glimpse of 60s psychedelia, all a stylistic potpourri that pays homage to his eccentric San Franciscan stomping ground and the prolific Millenial melting-pot of Indian culture. In a few words, “Rishi” is a collection of heartbreaking songs set to joyous music that tells a story that will -at the very least- chip away at the most hardened hearts out there.
dedicated to Rishi Dhanivan Sweeney-Moradi, born 2.18.18 died 4.20.18.