SLEEPY SUN – Embrace (ATP Recordings)
From the same stable as Black Mountain and Wooden Shjips come Sleepy Sun, a US band who take the overloaded guitar rock of Blue Cheer as a template, and bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. ‘New Age’ is a brave start – a seven minute epic that includes thundering guitar riffs, reflective passages, and fuzz-guitar solos, and pulls it all off by using all these elements to build up to a thrilling climax. ‘Lord’ brings things down with a bump, being a plaintive ballad built around a simple piano figure, with the vocal harmonies and soaring guitar solo adding to the atmosphere. ‘Red\Black’ is one of their shorter songs, and being less structured and more experimental it is just as well, but the almost eponymous track ‘Sleepy Son’ is the sort of thing that the band excel at – another lengthy guitar-fest that builds slowly from a dreamy beginning and then turns into a nightmare when the riffing begins. Guitar solos are bounced off a rolling ‘Manic Depression’ bass riff, and reflective acoustic passages are interspersed to produce a stunning piece of music. ‘Golden Artifact’ shows that the band are just as good in an acoustic setting, with the vocal harmonies blending with the gently strummed acoustic guitar, but all this is just to lull you before hitting you with the album’s centrepiece ‘White Dove’. This one clocks in at nine minutes, and they don’t even usher you in slowly this time – the guitars are in your face from the outset. They do temper the song by inserting some slower passages, but on the whole it is guitar solos all the way, until they wind things down with a bluesy sing-along section. ‘Snow Goddess’ is another track that you think is going to be a drifting acoustic ballad, but when the guitars kick in on this one they do so with a vengeance, and they don’t let up for the full five minutes of the song’s duration. ‘Duet With The Northern Sky’ is just what it says – a short acoustic duet with Rachel Williams about the Northern sky, gently rounding off the album and slowly easing you down after the onslaught you have just experienced. If you are already into the heavy psychedelic sounds of Black Mountain and Wooden Shjips then this album will most definitely appeal, and if you are yet to sample this sort of music then ‘Embrace’ is a good place to start.