Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Music Review:
Sun Hammer
(Full Spectrum Records)

I never wake up early unless I have to.   Fridays I take my son to school so I have this habit of staying up way too late on Thursday night (usually writing, reading comic books or listening to music) and having to wake up a few hours later on Friday morning.  It kind of messes me up sometimes because I'll come home and while the coffee is making I'll be in this dream state still.  Of course I'm only typing all of this because this is how I first felt when I listened to this Sun Hammer self-titled album. 

Literally, sitting on my couch, running on minimal sleep and not had coffee yet and no idea what to expect from this one.  I press play and instantly I am caught off guard.   "What was that?"  "What did he just do there?"  "I've heard that before, but... not... like that".   I sit there, stop what I'm doing except to send a single tweet and I listen to the entire album in full.  This is genius.  Pure genius.  I knew it then and I still know it now, some time later, after more than my fair share of listens (If this was a CD it'd be worn down and scratched by now)

Music, to me, is about numbers so I like to often think of it in that sense- in the way that it breaks down, not in the sense of how many copies of an album sells or whatever.   This album clocks in at 47 minutes and is twenty six tracks.  Don't bother doing the math on that because the songs don't come out evenly.  Some tracks are thirty seconds, some songs are four minutes long.   It all depends and the fact that seems to abide by no known rules or musical structures just makes it all that more amazing.

Though I cannot speak highly enough of this album, I need to focus now on telling you *why* it is good rather than how great it is.   When you listen to this for yourself you will hear what I am hearing (hopefully)   The song lengths sum up a lot about this.   There is a thirty second track called "Sun Hammer Audio Marketing #1" which sounds like a brief ad for a new form of technology in the 1990's- like something out of the show "Halt & Catch Fire".    But something like "I'm Not Alone Say No More" or even "'09 Dominant" are closer to standard length songs and have more of a verse/chorus structure though of course Sun Hammer gives them their own spin.

The best way that I can think of to explain this album is that it is in one of either three ways.   Either it is a song in about as traditional of a sense as you're going to get, it's an audio snippet or it is a collection of audio snippets which form this audio collage.   It might seem strange and at first you might not be sure what is going on, but it all eventually does make sense.    "San Lucifer Throwdown", for instance, goes from a field recording of people having a conversation to keys glitching and then it becomes that feeling of someone changing a radio station. 

Adding to its overall charm is the fact that I feel like it would be difficult to properly review this without explaining every single note, every single breath to you.  What does this sound like exactly?  When there are songs in a structured way, what kind of songs are they?  I'd call them electronic hip hop at their core.   There are beats, sure, but musically this album reminds me a lot of Seth Graham and Tony Njoku in the way it's delivered and yet perhaps the strongest connection those three artists have is the fact that they're all in my short list for album of the year right now.

Sometimes the lyrics are about playing shows and thinking you're going to get signed by Ghostly.   Sometimes they just shout out the label (Full Spectrum!)  But the lines I feel the most are: "The day job's so trying / then fuck it one day I just quit" and "It hurt when my dad told me I was entitled / when dude from Seven Bells had died"  Though I am also rather fond of "You're the best at expressing holes in communication" but wow, that's from "Suspicious Filter" which in and of itself could be a review.    Do you get it now? Yes? No?  Doesn't matter.  Get it.

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