Black Sun Ensemble

Black Sun Ensemble

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In 1985, Black Sun Ensemble issued a self-titled debut LP, privately pressed on the Pyknotic label. In one of those situations that is bound to cause confusion among whatever cultists try to assemble a complete Black Sun Ensemble discography in future generations, when the group released their second album in 1988, it too was called Black Sun Ensemble. Furthermore, although this 2001 Australian CD reissue on Camera Obscura mostly duplicates material from the 1985 debut album, it does not exactly duplicate it. Two of the songs that were on the original LP, "Cobracalia" and "Red Ocean," have been "lost" (according to the sleeve notes) and replaced by two newly discovered tracks from the same sessions, "Emerald Eye 2" and "Bleeding Heart." Got all that? As for the music, it's modern-day instrumental psychedelic guitar rock, built around the slightly dissonant, mystical modes of Jesus Acedo's distorted guitar runs, backed by bass, acoustic guitar strums, and drum. It is not frenzied acid-damage; the mood is often placid, the tempo downright lethargic. In its suitability for marriage to images of sunbaked deserts, it's similar to later instrumental psych-post-punksters Scenic, though Scenic are better and more melodic. Melody isn't much of a force on Black Sun Ensemble, and while it might be viewed as a cliché to depict their sound as suitable for drug trips mixing temporal dislocation with both the blissful and the mundane, that tag could well apply. At the time of its reissue, it was also tempting to see the record as a forebear of the kind of bands that would play Terrastock festivals ten to 15 years later, as they too would prioritize meandering psychedelic-influenced textures over tunes and song structure.

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