Spooky Attraction From a Distance

Sunflower Sutra

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Beginning with swooping, wordless vocals from Juliana Venter, clanging guitar tones from Joseph Suchy (some apparently backwards masked), and a feeling of regular disorientation, "Voodoo Claim" begins Spooky Attraction from a Distance's debut release Sunflower Sutra almost as if it was in medias res, continuing from some previously undisclosed starting point in an indeterminate past. This continual feeling of sonic irruption and discontinuity recurs at points throughout Sunflower Sutra. While creating pieces of music hard to describe as formal songs is nothing new, there's something strangely and distinctly unsettling about the band's work here, marked by an embrace of destabilization throughout. Electronic howls and moaning tones rub up against scattered percussion and deep bass booms, voices sweep in and away from the center, sudden breaks emerge and just as quickly disappear. There's no apparent logic to the idea that a song can begin with a seemingly random collage that settles into an apparently steady groove with spoken/sung vocals, which then collapses into a keyboard swirl before returning once again -- all while appearing to be one continuous performance -- but that's precisely what the group proceed to do at one point. In notable contrast are those more "formal" songs that do emerge, functioning as calm oases amid a larger framing chaos, though always with a strange, intentionally strained edge, a fragility that underscores that things are almost being held onto for dear life in case it all falls apart again, as with the high piano and tremulous singing, not to mention the distant feedback wails, on "Ende Des Herbstes." "New Apples" is almost a classic acid folk song for a new generation, centered around clear lyrics and steady acoustic guitar, but the slow build of other elements lurks throughout the mix,, while "Geisterteilchen" is the calmest and sweetest song here, albeit immediately followed by the unnerving wails and cryptic swells of deep sound and strings of "Komkommer ToebrooiDJie," a reminder that things aren't all as they seem.

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