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SUNTAN - Send You Home


Lost at Sea

Remember that scene in Dazed and Confused, near the end of the movie, when the kid who is always touching his nose gets home after partying all night, lies down on his bed all wasted and shit, puts on his headphones and blisses out to some stoner rock? Man that looks comfortable. Anyway, the song he is listening to is "Slow Ride" or something like that, but if I were to remake that movie I might consider using something from Suntan's new album Send You Home.

This Boston-based band makes 10-minute opuses that are lengthy, psychedelic, progressive, spacey, trancey and droney all at the same time and in that exact order. And they do it well. Their press sheet cites Television, Spacemen 3 and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and I would add Mogwai, American Analog Set and Velvet Underground to that list. The quartet uses an array of instruments to create their layers, including juno, bowed rocktagon, alto sax and bontempi organ, along with the requisite rock ingredients required for a heavy slice of musical pound cake.

The album commences with two slower and organ-centric pyche-dreamers, "Rising for You" and "The Next Ones." A brief lull comes with the "Willis/Lecube Interlude" which silkily slides right on into "King Felix," starting out gazing at the stars with delayed vocals before launching into a meteor shower of earthbound rock. Vocals keep the same pace as the music throughout, employing repetitive melodies as phased out guitar riffs give a little lift to the drumming that is fully embedded in the magma of Zeppelin-light. This is Suntan's second release and yet another fine pick by the ears at Kimchee. Strap on your headphones, drink 2 glasses of water and try to sleep off your drunk to this album.



A familiar sound is not always a bad thing, especially when that familiarity brings back fond memories of a day gone by, a relationship gone awry, a completion of a degree, or simply a discovery of something bold and beautiful. Hardly even a minute into "Rising For You," the seven and a half minute opening track on Suntan's debut full-length, my brain starts working.

Memories come back as I remember the first time I put Built to Spill's Perfect From Now On in my CD player, a few months before graduating high school, a week after my heart had been broken by a girl who moved a couple states away and didn't say goodbye.

The long instrumental interludes building toward climatic layers of swirling guitar effects, the trippy vocals, and the buzzing organ bring it all back in an instant, but fortunately for the sake of the band's reputation this only serves as a reference for the remainder of the time.

With no regard for song lengths or the traditional format of what a song entails, the band plays their instruments, even brutalizes them to the point where sounds are being manipulated that just sweep the listener into a head trip. In the process, floating through this psychedelic journey is like a visit through the decades of guitar rock.

On its own "I Can Only Give You Everything" would probably lump the band in with the current '80s punk revival, but at four minutes is the shortest track aside from a two minute interlude and is the only song of its kind in the mix. "Every Night" would probably fit in with something in the Jason Spacemen catalog, the combination of stringed instruments with the sweeping guitar effects adding to the melancholy.

The title track, broken into three parts (I. Driver, II. Ghost Rites, III. Home) clocks in at close to 13 minutes, bringing to mind again Built to Spill's mid-'90s epic masterpiece, but ending a promising debut on a lengthy but appropriately soothing note.


All Music Guide

Suntan's second offering, Send You Home, makes you believe that it is the early '90s. Shoegazing space rock is back and very healthy. Each epic track slowly builds into a lush layering affair. Send You Home starts out of the gate sounding like Jane's Addiction or Tripping Daisy, building driving guitars with effects against one another. One can make many references to My Bloody Valentine and Jessamine when listening to Suntan, but the band makes Send You Home their own. Suntan adds addition instruments into the typical rock outfit to create their own individual style. The subtle use of synths, organs, violins, and alto sax bring the tracks to a lush level, perhaps at times sounding like a more aggressive American Analog Set. "King Felix" is a big repetitive highlight that utilizes keyboard drones and vocal effects to create a huge atmosphere. The drums add funky offbeats and a wonderful tempo shift in the middle of "King Felix" to keep everything interesting. The average time of a song clocks in at eight minutes, except a nice cover of Them's "I Can Only Give You Everything" and a dreamy interlude/intro entitled "Wiles/Lecube Interlude." The tracks might be a tad too long, depending on your mood. Send You Home is solid second record which works well throughout, and with shoegaze making a strong comeback, this is one to have in your collection.



Like Suntan's previous work -- 2002's well-regarded self-titled EP -- Send You Home creates a montage of psychedelic, feedback-laden sound that pummels you as relentlessly as featureless scenery on a long drive; at first it all sounds the same, but you'll discover beauty in the subtle changes that occur as the miles add up. And add up they do -- five of the disc's seven tracks cross the seven-minute mark, allowing you ample time to take in the subtle beauty of their composition. The songs are deliberately paced, with the band's four members playing off a drone, slowly gaining momentum as each song meanders on. Though they follow the build-to-crescendo-and-slowly-tear-it-down formula long popular with post-rock acts, Suntan generally lack the ominous doom of Set Fire to Flames and employ more vocals than Mogwai. The music isn't as murky as those acts, either -- it's more psychedelic, like Bardo Pond, or playful like the Faith Healers UK.

On space-rock opener "Rising For You", Nick Holdskum calls out the lyrics as if pulling them from the ether. "I never want to be sober / I never want to be sober," he repeats, setting the tone and suggested state of consciousness for this aural excursion. The fuzzy, trippy organ accompaniment will draw you into the record as you kick back and allow the monolithic jams to unfold. Guitars ring out on the same sustained chords but the bass undercurrent guides each song, working through repetitive cycles like a kaleidoscope, slowly building momentum and letting it fall again without really getting anywhere. But isn't that the point?

"I Can Only Give You Everything" is something of a departure -- a cover of the Them (featuring Van Morrison) song. It's the disc's most accessible (read: shortest) tune, anchored by a bouncy bass line and a faux British accent that gives it an '80s pop flavor. The guitar and organ retain a spacy vibe, but the urgent fun implied by the bass and vocals sets the song apart -- and the emotional upturn is just what the doctor ordered to break the trance created by the disc's first two tracks.

It's not a bad spell to be under, though. Dense guitars, swirling effects and feedback freakouts reminiscent of Mercury Rev's Boces become more hypnotic as each new sonic foray takes you under its influence. By the time you reach the thirteen minute closer, which features Holdskum's best Doug Yule impersonation and lifts the Bob Dylan line "Take what you need / You think will last" from "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", you'll wonder where the hour went.

Send You Home sometimes feels like a locked-groove record, spinning endlessly like a merry-go-round. You may end up a little dizzy and disoriented after listened to it, and that's the point; the music works into you, but it's never oppressive. Maybe it's just the thing for the summer -- a post-rock spin through the playground that won't weigh you down or drown you in its riptide.


Aiding and Abetting

A quartet that likes to play conceptual post-rock and doesn't skip on the contemplation. Most of these songs unfold rather slowly, but that only heightens the tension and cranks up the eventual release. Quite the ride.



After falling in love with this foursome's three song EP last year, I have been eagerly waiting for them to produce a long player. Mostly because I wanted to see if the band could keep my attention for the duration of a full length they way they had with their twenty-six minute, three song EP. Well they did. Partly.

Send You Home is epic in every sense of the word. Seven tracks clock in at 52:21. Not bad. But, can playing 70's psych rock for that long provide you with enough substance to be considered a good listen? Well, that, like most things, is going to be up for debate. Whether or not you can stomach an hour of feedback guitars and wah pedals is probably already determined. Suntan isn't going to bring new fans to the genre. The brand of epic rock that they play has been around for years. And you all know whether you like it or not already, this is not going to change anyone's mind to jump on the other side of the fence.

But before you think I'm coming down on the band or the album, I should let you know that I love it. I know I sound like a crabby old man in those first paragraphs. but that is just because I am. I just think I should shoot you straight on this one. No hype, no ten dollar words, no "THIS IS THIS SO GOOD" talk. Just plain old, "I like it".

It's simple and it serves its purpose. It's good (very good) mood music. Just hit play and relax. I hate to say it (mostly because I'm sure they get it all the time) but this is the perfect modern day answer to stoner rock. Heavy on the reverb, long winded jams that seem to have no end, meandering lyrics that seem to be coming stream of consciousness. isn't that the very definition of stoner rock? But these guys pull it of in a way that doesn't have you yelling "RIP OFF!" at your stereo. It seems to be coming from a sincere place, not one of "cashing in" on the next new sound.

With their EP I compared their sound to UV, Television and the like. But, with a new crop of psych rock and shoegazer, these guys would be better placed with bands like Stratford 4 and The Helio Sequence. Pick it up, turn it up real loud, and enjoy.


Last modified: Friday, 25-Jun-2010 14:16:41 PDT   [ Catalog | Bands | Listen | Who we are | Contact | Press ]