RELEASE: Surfacing To Breathe
RELEASE DATE: 19th May 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Seahorse Recordings
Italian based sonic aficionados ‘Clustersun’ are what I would define as one of the four main cornerstones of todays underground ‘Italogaze’ scene. Their collective sound effortlessly swims within a heady mix of shoegaze, electronica & post-punk with a subtle undercurrent of alt-rock that bubbles and fizzes through layers of sublime production to create a wall of blissful noise with layers of soaring reverberation. Now, three full years after the debut long player ‘Out Of Your Ego’ graced the ears of the underground faithful, the 4-piece band from Catania have announced a brand new eight track album in the guise of ‘Surfacing To Breathe’ via the brilliant Italian based independent record label ‘Seahorse Recordings’. ‘Clustersun’ have matured dramatically since those tentative debut years, so much so that this time around they have added a new element to the their sonic arsenal by dipping their collective toes into the modern psych gaze scene; and the overall results of this experimentation are magnificent. The band are made up of Marco Chisari – vocals /bass, Mario Lo Faro – guitars, Piergiorgio Campione – synthesizers/keyboards/backing vocals) & Andrea Conti – drums and ‘Surfacing To Breathe’ gets it’s full release on the 19th May 2017 via ‘Seahorse Recordings’. The album is available to pre-order right now on various formats including lovely limited edition black vinyl via clustersun.bandcamp.com
The album opens up with it’s lead single ‘Raw Nerve’ and it sits on a very precarious experimental curve with the band stepping out of their comfort zone to inject elements of modern day psych into their usual watered down electro-gaze firmament. It has a kraut like percussive swagger that lends itself brilliantly to that post-punk styled throbbing bass progression and it’s angry guitar lines bob and weave menacingly through layers of senses pummelling reverberation. The heavily effected vocal lines dangerously lean (sort of like an over weight scales) atop of the instrumentation with an air of expectation that they might just fall off the sonic precipice at any moment; but that only adds to the overall atmosphere of the track. Up next, ‘Antagonise Me’ explodes into the ether on sharp instrumental stabs before unloading a dark & delicious slab of driving post-punk intertwined with psych rock tendencies and reams of resonating frequencies. Throbbing bass lines & soaring synth swells bounce and weave along a steadying percussive pattern as noisy guitars slash and chop at those mesmerising vocalisations before collectively soaring into a sublime chorus pattern filled with wailing lead lines and brim;antsy constructed production. Absolutely marvellous!
‘Lonely Moon’ swerves into modern dream-gaze territory as wave after wave of shimmering synth and soaring reverb drenched guitars loop & arc around a brilliantly executed drum pattern that carefully surrounds and protects that stunning vocal performance by Marco Chisari. Up next, ‘Clustersun’ dive into massive swathes of undulating atmosphere as ‘The Whirling Dervish’ unfurls it’s resonating tendrils. Piercing lead lines follow cascading bass patterns as the vocals float on a hovering wave of reverb, accompanied at times by refreshing plinking piano lines. This track builds brilliantly as it progresses, adding layer after layer of instrumentation before exploding into a massive wave of post-punk hued psych-gaze. ‘Don’t Let The Weight Of Your Soul Drag You Down’ instrumentally swirls into the ether on an ambient themed synth pattern before glorious guitars enter the mix followed by sparse percussion and the hum of sullen bass frequencies. Another atmospheric monster, this track builds and formulates into a huge wall of blissful unwavering noise before unleashing it’s inner behemoth thus dragging this listener with it through every single twist and turn on the road to it’s blistering finale.
The albums self-titled track is a full on modern day psych-gaze bruiser. ‘Surfacing To Breathe’ begins life held fast in a swirling synth drone before a magnificent guitar progression takes hold and instantly peak this listeners attention. Metronomic percussion holds court here as it drags plodding bass patterns and soaring synth lines with it into the mix thus turning this track into a well organised, uniformed, steady and rhythmic sonic drill through layers of reverberation and dark atmosphere. Again, both Marco Chisari & Mario Lo Faro need to celebrated here (on vocal and guitar duties respectfully) as they carry this engrossing track through to the end. The albums penultimate piece teeters precariously on a more experimental edge as ‘Emotional Painkiller’ enters audible range. This is the only track on the entire album that harkens back to their more electronically charged debut release ‘Out Of Your Ego’. For me they try to fit the sonic aesthetic of that debut album into this newer sound with varying results. That not to say that it isn’t aesthetically pleasing, it just seems to me that it works only in parts and to some extent suffers greatly at times. It’s very difficult to fit square pegs into round holes and the band should be careful of this going forward. For me their new psych-gaze leanings work brilliantly when left alone to be exactly that …. psych-gaze!
The album closes out with a magnificent final track. ‘Event Horizon’ bounces along on an absolutely immense bass signature that acts as sonic glue thus holding this entire track together. Soaring synth swells carry beautifully intense guitar progressions up into the ether as it’s ground dwelling drum patterns pound and echo into the sonic firmament with relative ease. Instrumentally sublime, this track carefully envelopes it’s vocal lines like a mother caring for a new born baby, buffering it from punishing sound waves and relentless resonating frequencies with aplomb. A very impressive finale to a masterful sophomore release thus showing that the dreaded second album needn’t be so scary.
Bravo Clustersun …. now lets go for album number three!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog – The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm – Primal Radio – has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.