Artist: Szun Waves
Title: At Sacred Walls
Label: Buffalo Temple
Release: 20th May 2016
Szun Waves is a new project formed of electronic producers Luke Abbott, Laurence Pike of PVT and Jack Wyllie of Portico. Luke Abbott is an artist that has caused waves in the scene since his early releases on James Holden’s Border Community and has continued to make beautiful and thought provoking electronic music ever since with many talented musicians.
The project first took shape when Luke Abbott and Laurence Pike began talking via email about the idea of working together, and it was just a case of waiting for the right time for the pair to began such work. Despite being located in different parts of the world (Luke in London and Laurence in Sydney), they eventually managed to get together during March 2015. Joining up with Jack Wyllie who had collaborated with Luke on a prior release, the trio embarked on a three day recording session at James Holden’s Sacred Walls studio. The 6 hours of sessions were then edited and mixed by Luke into a 6 track LP.
Luke’s approach was largely an organic one, choosing to record whatever happened in the very first moments of playing together. He describes the act of capturing embryonic ideas for the first time as “the most magical part of the process” – those initial moments that are instinctively fresh and quite singular.
The project presented itself with some challenges, namely successfully coordinating analogue hardware with real-life musicians. Coming from a background of mainly sequenced music, Luke had to find ways of linking his modular synth set-up to Laurence’s drumming and Jack’s saxophone without imparting any strict tempo structures on themselves. By putting midi triggers on parts of the drum kit, Luke built patches in response to Laurence’s playing, and then set about creating a bed of sound through textures and drone layers. This was coupled with Jack running his sax through a chain of electronics to alter the tone of the instrument to help build the layers further.
“I have this slightly romantic notion about music being something that is grown (instead of written)” – Luke Abbott
First up on the this album is the track ‘Further’ which begins life as an almost haunting electronic number. I love that when the track begins you can hear Laurence jam on the drums for a split second. You can almost pick out each of the influences on this track. Luke’s electronic sound is ever present and the sounds of Jack on the saxophone are just sublime, almost ethereal in the vibe and sounds he creates. The track has some deep bass pads that add a moody texture to things and the track quickly begins to build with the pacey and off beat drum kicks and haunting electronic sounds. The track creates it’s own tension. This is a very lengthy 12 minute track but it keeps you gripped throughout and feels 100% organic, as if it was just a jamming session with 3 incredible musicians. The next track ‘At Sacred Walls’ seems to fit that Border Community sound a lot more with its off beat drum kicks and wining other worldly electronica. The Luke Abbott and James Holden fans out there will love this track. It is quite a short track at only 5 minutes but it does not need any more time to get across its message. It is truly a sublime piece of electronica.
The third track on the album sees Jack once again take to the saxophone in memorable style. This track would not be out of place in either some contemporary jazz bar or Cafe Del Mar in Ibiza. It is a very relaxed and tripped out affair… ‘Orb Light’ moves on perfectly from the last track, as it is so different and almost frantic in its creation. The track is a glitchy, electronic, jazz infused jam session and I just love it. The drumming on this track is sublime and upon listing you just feel transported to some kind of futuristic jazz dungeon. Simply sublime work from the trio here and evidence of three masters at their craft.
‘Through Stars Into Voids’ moves more towards the electronic world once again and would certainly not be out of place on a film score for some kind of sci-fi movie. The wonderful electronic hum from Luke’s machines with the live drums in the background sound incredible. It is a joy to here Luke weave in the uplifting electronic keys with ease and patience, and clearly a massive amount of skill. It is one of those tracks that you simply have to sit back and appreciate its awe inspiring beauty.
The final piece of the jigsaw on this incredible album is ‘Trouble Burning’ which is of the same mould as the previous track in that it is a cinematic soundscape of incredible beauty. The sounds created by the trio here are simply blissful, and once again the blend of live musicians and electronic wizardry are controlled and mastered to perfection by Luke. This is an album you need to sit back and enjoy in its entirety. You cannot rush this experience, you simply have to let it take you on the journey to which it was intended to take you on.
2. At Sacred Walls
4. Orb Light
5. Through Stars Into Voids
6. Trouble Burning
You can catch Szun Waves when they play Convergence Presents at Village Underground on 17th March 2016 where they will be supporting Dan Deacon.