Ever since Gus Lobban of Kero Kero Bonito fame went off on his own to do his Kane West (lol) DJ/producer serious satire project, it seemed inevitable for Sarah Bonito (formally Midori Perry) to do something on her own eventually. Gestating slowly since 2018, a time when Sarah was marred with some personal tribulation, we now have that very thing: Cryalot. With KKB live collaborator Jennifer Walton producing, Sarah’s solo project is the result of emotional and personal journeys mixed with an obsession for the Greek myth of Icarus, the son of Daedalus that flew too close to the sun on wax wings, causing him to fall to his death.
Not only does this EP loosely follow the myth of Icarus, but expands on it with Sarah’s own experiences. That’s super interesting to me, divorced from the fact that I’m a huge KKB fan. The Cryalot logo is decidedly, purposefully more of a metal aesthetic as well. The cover art? Dejected and dark, reminiscent of Poppy‘s I Disagree cover with its star front and center. Seeing and hearing “Hell Is Here” as the project’s first single? Goddamn. It’s like that Vince McMahon meme where he gets gradually more and more elated before flopping out of his seat like a fuck-you rich sea lion.
In order, “Touch the Sun” is Icarus’ ascent and flight to the sky, the chasing of something coveted and greater, filled with equal parts hubris and raw desire. “Hurt Me” is his plummeting to the ocean after his wings melt, finding solace and comfort in pushing his limits. “Hell Is Here” is the defeat and powerlessness of being submerged in the ocean, coming to terms with failure and pain caused by his flight. “Labyrinth” realizes that life is only more than itself with dreams, and the pursuit of them in spite of reality’s hold on you. Finally, “See You Again” is the deification of Icarus and what he showed the world, an internal promise to have his spirit live on by being courageous and pushing ourselves to achieve our greatness.
The way Cryalot stages each phase of the Icarus myth is spectacular. The basis for it all is electropop with unique tendrils flowing from each one. The EP is bookended by upbeat production that skirts closely to the KKB norm, but harder hitting. The bass slaps with each syllable that Sarah sings in the chorus of “Touch the Sun” are a great touch. “See You Again” has a sense of finality to it, the lyrics illustrating this voyage into another realm by boat as if ushering spirits or souls to the other side with burning synths and sentimental yet sparse post-rock-ish melodies playing throughout. Sarah speaks several phrases in Japanese, which gives it all an additional air of beauty.
In the middle is “Hell Is Here” with its molten-red core of the EP. Weaving in heavy, industrial elements, it’s the hardest and darkest Sarah’s ever gotten with music. I do believe it also marks the first and only time she’s said ‘fuck‘ in her lyrics as well as she depicts a downright violent picture of her emotional and mental lowest while still lining up with Icarus’ fate.
‘Face smashed to the ground
All you see is stars
Rip out all his feathers
I’m gonna give you scars
Pierce through his liver
I’ll leave you here to bleed
Blood gushing like a river
Stay the fuck away from me‘
Gradually, there’s a harsh vocal that joins Sarah’s own clean, clear voice, and it’s hard to tell if this is a heavily modulated Sarah, if Jennifer provided these vocals, or if someone else entirely is singing it. Either way, the joining of each vocal line is chilling and something I never truly expected for her to fully commit to, but I want more and more of it. The video for the song only sows more discord to go along with the tone of the track.
There’s surprisingly a lot to parse out in this small EP, offering another window into the mind of Sarah who has already proven to be a multifaceted and dynamic writer in the last few years. Icarus feels like a privilege and a pleasure, one backed by some of the coolest production her saccharine voice has graced – honestly, Jennifer Walton deserves equal praise for working so closely and in sync with Sarah, something I’m sure was easy enough after establishing a great working relationship together in KKB. I really, really hope Cryalot is a project that can be fostered and nourished to yield more fulfilling crops like this.
In the end, Icarus is a fantasy, and reflection of life and how we think as humans. We must weigh, is the inevitability of death worth transcending our perceived limits and striving for more, or shall we stay safe and perhaps persevere longer? Is the latter even considered living? Sarah’s distillation of the myth along with her own life is pretty clear, and while the answer is hers alone, maybe it’s something we can all heed. Dream big and hard. Aim for the sun, cradle it in your hands even if it means melting your wings. Fools will see failure, but you will see the defiance of limitations; you will feel the sting of greatness, however temporary.