Clustersun sound exactly like their name: nebulous, celestial and otherworldly. Surfacing To Breathe is their self-acknowledged difficult second album. It has been three years, in fact, since their debut Out Of Your Ego. None of which matters as Surfacing To Breathe is a triumph.
Typical of many psych albums, there are only eight tracks but each one manages to sustain its own private atmosphere and world. There are no short tracks but neither will you feel like the songs have been dragged out. Each one is a myriad of sounds and textures which make them seem more like than one-off performances.
One of the signature themes of the album is the opening of the songs. The majority start minimally with just one instrument. On ‘Raw Nerve’ it is a menacing synth before it is softened by the melodic screech of a guitar. The vocal is obscured, hidden behind dry ice, like someone singing through plate glass. ‘Antagonise Me’ starts with reverberating drums before the onslaught of noise that is reminiscent of Loop. Put aside that Clustersun look like they should sound like Stereophonics. Shut your eyes and let the music wash over you like purple waves on a beach.
This Italian four-piece will find plenty of followers in the UK. Surfacing To Breathe references a number of British psych and early goth bands. ‘Lonely Moon’ is immersive. It is an echo in the underworld, unreachable and distant, Spacemen 3 when Jason Pierce knew what day it was. ‘Don’t Let The Weigh [sic] Of Your Soul Drag You Down’ is an instrumental track and very much like Pink Floyd. It would fit quite happily on the soundtrack of ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’. The title track ‘Surfacing To Breathe’ is a shadowy mood-piece similar to tracks from The Cure’s Japanese Whispers.
In the centre is ‘The Whirling Dervish’. At eight minutes long, all psyche albums have to have one of these. It begins as if it is stalking though a house in a Hammer film accompanied by Bauhaus guitar riffs, before they transform into rain dripping down dark, damp walls. There is plenty of variation in tempo and use of effects, making this track an absolute pleasure of discovery. At times, ‘The Whirling Dervish’ is cleverly layered with delicate instrumentation. At others, there is just the bare vocal or the full onslaught of everything.
The final track, ‘Event Horizon’, is similarly compelling. Nigh on six minutes of music that feels like you are Icarus being drawn to the sun. In the closing minute a murmuration of dark birds passes behind before the song shudders and fades to a close.
Surfacing To Breathe is mesmerising. Let it transport you.
Surfacing To Breathe will be released on 19th May through Seahorse Recordings.