|Suuns — Hold / Still (April 15th, 2016)|
Suuns — Hold / Still (April 15th, 2016) ★ Elektrická, elektrizující, ekletická, éterická, drtící jako stopa slona. Zpěv je křehoučký jako tělíčko stehlíka. Stále je zde dost místa pro intervaly. Suuns mixuje aspekty temného elektra, disharmonického art~rocku, a kulhavého indie rocku. Suuns, dříve označováni jako nula (0), využívají minimalismus ve svém široce otevřeném (a často paranoidním) zvuku. Aktuální album je zachycen v průběhu tří týdnů. Tisková zpráva ho uvádí jako “intelektuální zkoumání, jak se pracuje s živými a analogovými přístroji s cílem vytvořit hluboce texturovanou, elektronickou nahrávku”. Tedy něco spíše týkající se intelektu, než intuice a instinktu. “Resistance” má v sobě ‘vlnění housenky na listí’ a monotónní recitaci. Album jako celek však poskytuje zvukovou kamufláž, jakoby civilizace nám chtěla něco podstatného zakrýt. To není nic nového. V 80.´letech vinyl holandské kapely O.R.D.U.C. uvedl na svět něco podobně elektronického, pouze se staršími technologiemi. Projeví se to už v úvodní ‘Fall’, kde kytary jsou téměř minimalistické, zkreslené, agresivní. Postupně jemnější, rytmicky pomalejší, zvukově však přehledné. Album jako celek je ‘kanadsky’, tedy přírodně životaschopné. V “Careful” Ben recituje..., zpívá. “Paralyzer” poslouchačsky zvládneš. Ty následující už jen velmi zdatný posluchač/labužník. V jiném takřka investigativním smyslu, toto album lustruje Benovy vokály lépe formulované a jsou v popředí více, než na předchozích albech. “Pokud existují témata, která byla původním záměrem alba”, říká Ben, “mohla být chápána o sexu ..., ne však specificky zamýšlena, pouze okrajově sexuální povahy. Ale je tu také duchovní podtón, který odkazuje na jiný druh hledání.” Hudebně je to velmi náročné album, vyžadující nadměrnou odolnost vůři nepříznivým civilizačním vlivům a také s dostatečnou časovou investicí, kdy vše kromě poslechu musí jít stranou. Jedno z pěti alb února. Album jako celek však není larválním stadiem hudby, je to vytrvalá forma Hyposmocoma molluscivora s kamufláží, jakoby pohled shora, ze satelitního snímku Svaté Heleny v jižním Atlantiku. Formed: 2006 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Album release: April 15th, 2016
Record Label: Secretly Canadian
Genre: Alternative, Indie Rock
01. Fall 3:08
02. Instrument 3:22
03. UN–NO 3:45
04. Resistance 5:13
05. Mortise and Tenon 3:35
06. Translate 4:59
07. Brainwash 5:04
08. Careful 7:05
09. Paralyzer 4:26
10. Nobody Can Save Me Now 4:11
11. Infinity 2:14
℗ 2016 Secretly Canadian
★ Hold/Still, the third studio album from Suuns, is an enigmatic thing: an eerily beautiful, meticulously played suite of music that embraces opposites and makes a virtue of cognitive dissonance. It is a record that does not give up its secrets easily.
★ Produced by Grammy~winning producer John Congleton Dallas,Texas, Hold/Still is a natural step on from their two previous albums, 2011s Zeroes QC & 2013s Images du Futur, and yet a marked departure, Hold/Still is a cerebral exploration of how to take live and analogue instruments and create a deeply textured electronic record.
★ The first single, “Translate”, is one of the defining songs of the album — the sound of a band working in mental lockstep, crafting guitarmusic that feels unbeholden to clear traditions or genre brackets. It is a song that the band have been reworking for years, and wasone of the last songs to be finished for the album, and yet, perhaps, defines the record perfectly.
★ Hold/Still, the third studio album from Suuns, is an enigmatic thing: an eerily beautiful, meticulously played suite of music that embraces opposites and makes a virtue of cognitive dissonance. It is a record that does not give up its secrets easily. The 11 songs within are simultaneously psychedelic, but austere; sensual, but cold; organic, but electronic; tense sometimes to the brink of mania, but always retaining perfect poise and control. “There’s an element of this album that resists you as a listener, and I think that’s because of these constantly opposing forces,” says drummer Liam O’Neill. “Listen to the song ‘Brainwash’, for instance, “It’s a very soft, lyrical guitar song, existing alongside extremely aggressive and sparse drum textures. It inhabits these two worlds at the same time.”
★ From the beginning, Suuns (you pronounce it “soons”, and it translates as “zeroes” in Thai) have sought to do things differently. They formed in Montreal 2007, when singer/guitarist Ben Shemie and guitarist Joe Yarmush got together to work on some demos, soon to be joined by Liam, Ben’s old schoolfriend, on drums and Max Henry on synth. Their group’s first two records, 2010’s Zeroes QC and 2012’s Polaris Prize~nominated Images Du Futur — both released on Secretly Canadian — were immediate critical hits, and Suuns soon found themselves part of a late ‘00s musical renaissance in the city, alongside fellow groups like The Besnard Lakes, Islands and Land Of Talk. Still, at the same time, Suuns feel remote from the big, baroque ensembles and apocalyptic orchestras that typify the Montreal scene. “We write quite minimal music,” thinks Ben. “They’re not traditional song forms, sometimes they don’t really go anywhere — but they have their own kind of logic.” Or as Joe puts it: “It’s pop music, but sitting in this evil space.”
★ After two records produced by their friend Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes at his Montreal studio Breakglass, Suuns decided Hold/Still demanded a different approach. In May 2015, they decamped to Dallas, Texas to work with Grammy~winning producer John Congleton (St Vincent, The War On Drugs, Sleater~Kinney). For three intense weeks, the four recorded in Congleton’s studio by day, the producer driving them to capture perfect live takes with virtually no overdubbing. At night, they returned to their cramped apartment and stewed. “Recording in Montreal, it’s more of a party atmosphere,” says Joe. “Here it felt like we were on a mission. We were looking for something to take us out of our element, or that might seep into our music.” Luckily, the effect was galvanizing. Under Congleton’s instruction, ‘Translate’ and ‘Infinity’, songs the group had been reworking for years, suddenly found their form.
★ The result is undoubtedly Suuns’ most focused album to date, the sound of a band working in mental lockstep, crafting a guitar music that feels unbeholden to clear traditions or genre brackets. From the haunted electronic blues of ‘Nobody Can Save Me Now’ to throbbing seven–minute centrepiece ‘Careful’, Hold/Still foregrounds the work of Max, a synthesizer obsessive who builds hisown patches and confesses to using cranky or budget equipment as well as top~of~the~range kit because “[good gear] does all the work for you, and that’s not always fun”. Certainly, this is a band as inspired by the dark groove textures of Andy Stott, the flourishing arpeggios of James Holden or the serrated productions of Death Grips as anything familiarly rock. ★ “Things don’t feel right until they’ve been touched or cast over in an electronic light,” elaborates Liam. “It’s rare that acoustic drum kit, guitar, and bass comprise a finished product for us. For a song to be Suuns, it has to be coloured by electronics”. Certainly this remains a band in love with the aesthetic of obscurity. The album cover is an image of Ben’s former workmate Nahka, who was captured by photographer Caroline Desilets using a pinhole camera with a four~minute exposure time — Hold/Still, indeed.
★ In another contradiction, this record finds Ben’s vocals far more enunciated and upfront than before. If there are themes that tie Hold/Still together, says Ben, they might be investigations “about sex... perhaps not the act specifically, just [themes] of a sexual nature. But there’s also a spiritual undertone that points to another kind of searching.” The sexual is illustrated in the dark romance of ‘Careful’, while longing becomes both sexual and spiritual in the thirsty pleas of ‘Instrument’: “I wanna believe/I wanna receive...” The spiritual takes over on the back half of the record. ‘Nobody Can Save Me Now’ evokes artist Tracey Emin’s ghostly invocation For You at the Liverpool Cathedral: “I felt you / and I knew that you loved me”, while side B opener ‘Brainwash’ wonders: “Do you see, all seeing? / Do you know, all knowing?”
★ In a cultural centre like Montreal, bands can get too comfortable playing to their peers. Suuns, though, feel like a band always looking to the nearest border. They found early audiences in France and in Belgium, where they curated the Sonic City Festival in 2012, booking acts as diverse as Swans, Tim Hecker and Demdike Stare. Meanwhile, the last couple of years have seen them tour as far afield as Mexico, Morocco, Beirut, Taiwan and Istanbul — sometimes with friend Radwan Moumneh of the multimedia project Jerusalem In My Heart, with whom they released a brilliant collaborative record, Suuns And Jerusalem In My Heart last year.
★ “We tour a lot as a band and we’ve been all over the map at this point,” says Ben. “There is a concerted effort on our part, when the opportunity arises, to do that. It’s like, this time, let’s try to go further east, let’s try to go further south. You find yourself playing in front of people who don’t get bands playing in front of them often, and that can be really fun.” In short, good things happen when you venture outside of your comfort zone — a truth that you could equally apply to Hold/Still itself: an album which derives its eerie power from simmering tensions and strange, stark juxtapositions, and in doing so, directs rock music down a new, unventured path. ★ http://www.piccadillyrecords.com/
|Suuns — Hold / Still (April 15th, 2016)|