Sunwatchers - Oh Yeah? (Trouble In Mind)

Sunwatchers – Oh Yeah? (Trouble In Mind)

A four-piece who hail from New York, but as good a place to start as any, at this time, would be their Bandcamp page. A home which, at the moment, is easier to access than travelling more than 3,000 miles, even if we could! Free jazz is their tipple, a musical form that is nearly 60 years young and still expanding, which when listening to this band can become narcotic. Sit back, relax and take in the sounds that epitomise their 4th album, and when you have, consider exploring earlier outings and maybe the genre a little more?

The first track ‘Sunwatchers vs. Tooth Decay‘, combines a cacophony with an irregular tempo, which descends into Jim McHugh’s untuned guitar. This plays alongside an almost sonic boom of instrumentation and is one that can’t fail to grab the listener’s attention. Free jazz must be the loosest form that music has to offer, throwing convention to the wind and allowing the irregular playing of notes and rhythms that combine to produce something beautiful. Mostly void of any form of lyric, this allows the musical palette to become the focus and, like ‘Love Paste‘, the second track where a rare vocal becomes part of the music, produces the occasional exuberant ‘Woo!‘, which adds to the performance. All this before moving seamlessly into ‘Brown Ice‘, where saxophone takes centre stage.

After having learnt just what Brown Ice is, or what is required at least, I am going to move swiftly on to the almost treacle like ‘Thee Worm Store‘. This is now like trying to pull yourself from a treacle-like sinkhole, whilst sucking on one of Kojak’s lollipops. Saxophone being the treacle that is omnipresent, whilst those irregular beats do their best to stop the listener from pulling themselves out. These guys certainly know how to capture their audience – once inside, you’re hooked. It is the next number ‘The Conch‘, that holds the greatest narcotic. With an almost sub-grunge resonance acting as this number’s canvas, this is under-ridden by a sound possessing a middle-eastern charm and although this soon subsides, only lasting 2’48”, it left me craving more.

Finally, we come to what seems to be the centre stage of the whole album. This is ‘The Earthsized Thumb‘, which is not just any track, but a huge almost 20-minute symphony. This time, those elements that might dispel first-timers have been played down, and like a later Talk Talk album, cradle the listeners head as a mother might her baby. This gently rocks with repetitive notes and than charms with a passage of music that returns, over and over, in between the aforementioned piece. As a snake charmer might hypnotise his subject with the visual movement and vibration created by the pipe, it’s Jeff Tobias saxophone & McHugh’s guitar that take on this role. Although not forgetting that it’s the whole band performing which creates this hypnotic mix, again we hear the influences of grunge, but not forgetting Hendrix‘s spirit that McHugh gives off, which creates the perfect soup.

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.