Sungazer is the name chosen by Adam Neely and Shawn Crowder for their avantgarde project.
The path of professional musicians sometimes leads to spending the entire life working for companies, labels, trademarks, weddings, recording sessions for famous people that sometimes don’t even know the faces of their collaborators, music schools and teaching theory to lazy kids. Sometimes it gets frustrating, especially when the amount of work doesn’t allow to wreak the personal urge to spread into the world a personal vision of music.
Adam and Shawn are the beautiful exceptions to this stereotype. Working as sidemen in the real world and as teachers on social media, these two jazz-based guys can’t contain the urge to put their creative vision available for people to hear, so they released two Eps, simply called Vol.1 and Vol.2, respectively in 2014 and in 2019. The second one is the one I want to deal with here.
“Vol.2”, just like the previous one, is a fabulous container of what the two musicians teach on Youtube, but I think that the music in it is far more “felt” than just examples of music theory. There’s a lot of heart in it, and I can figure out how much difficult is to be heart-guided in writing music when in everyday life is an actual job, trying to escaping out the academic way to do things. For those who don’t know the duo, they usually blend jazz with electronic music and shake with progressive elements, especially odd time signatures.
There is a psychedelic intro with Drunk, an extraordinary piece of music that tries to give a “drunk” feeling to the listener, using the drunk style of drumming consisting in playing “wrong” on purpose, while the bass imitates the slouching movement of a drunk person, running on some notes and keeping others prolonged. The spiral into the alcoholic trip leads to the outbreak of the EWI solo (an electronic wind instrument) played by Zac Zinger, and then into the final, wonderfully repetitive outro.
Bird On The Wing could be a happy invitation to fall in love, but also could be an invitation to not fall in love anymore. I say this because the lyrics quote Cole Porter and a song sung by him, probably Let’s Do It, where Cole pushes on the topic again and again throughout the song; but the vocoder sounding lyrics say that the Bird is not flying anymore. I love this ambiguity.
Ostinato is a psychedelic trip into sampled chipmunk voices leading into a violin outbreak played by Tomoko Akaboshi, flying over a heavy rhythmic carpet sewed by drums and bass, culminating in a sweet carillon that completes the string melody. The violin part reminds me of the orchestrated score pieces of music of the sixties’ and seventies’ music, with sweet, sweet modulated melodies.
In Why We Fight we are welcomed by an entire world of videogame sounds and effects, from the tones used to write melodies and chords to the scream effect of a dying man that you will probably recognize in hundreds of games. If there is a soundtrack that involves Sonic, Metroid and Super Mario at the same time, and making them shake with the dancefloor, it’s this one for sure.
A fast drum solo puts an end to Why We Fight and lets Electro begin. Electro contains all the elements that give the idea of motion and let bodies shake. The song strategically recycles the same melodic cells, using all the weapons available to do it such as syncopation, straight kick and snare, dozens of sampled voices, opening and closing filters, heavy synth tones. The end of the song is a run towards the sky, a beautiful sax solo in which single notes chase each other until the final climax that blends all the elements together at the speed of sound. Amazing.
Useless to say that the video singles taken from the EP until now, Drunk and Electro, are wonderfully animated by Ben Levin, one of the minds behind Bent Knee that already gave us treasures like the REM RAM video album (You find my review of that in this same blog).
2019 has just begun to provide cool and unique music and my ears are already on fire! Waiting for the next Sungazer experimentations but until that moment…BASS
Written for you by Music Pills
About Music Pills:
The band I play in:
Review about Ben Levin and his experimentation: