With electronic music, it isn't enough to make par. Anyone with a Macbook Pro and some free time can make music that sounds like it's underwater or in space, the two prerequisites for implied cool these days. And there is a ton of garbage in that vein, it's like a heart attack waiting to happen for the gluttonous music consumer. Luckily the artistry of it all isn't lost on those who excel, as many in the past year have demonstrated. A compelling melody, the perfect combinations of familiar and foreign electronic synthesis can still move the dial in our brains. Sun Airway starts their debut with a rush of air and a sunburst sounding splatter, a familiar motif in the vein of electronic music (although not a bad one). It kind of sounds like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
. But over the course of Nocturne Of Exploded Crystal Chandelier
the pair express a command of affecting melodies and combinations that coalesce into brilliance.
"Waiting On You" is a good place to start. The track emulates a Postal Service type play on melody, the idea that a song's vocal contour can be electronically developed and imitative of it's background. Taking the specific hits of the beat and replacing them with an acoustic guitar would greatly alter the feel of the composition, and the dependency of melody and digital nuance is part of the appeal of Sun Airway; each song feels cohesive and necessarily thick with sound and rhythm. My problem with this kind of music has always been the oft-lazy attitude towards extraneous sound; do we really need all this ambiance, or this shift in beats, or this echo here? For Sun Airway, the answer is usually yes, and that is crucial to the immediacy of the songs, and the quality.
It's hard to write lyrics that are affecting and different enough to stand out, but translatable enough that they don't sound like they are trying too hard to be modern poetry. Not to mention the baffling precedent that most follow, the Animal Collective mentality (whether or not intentional by AC): electro-vocals being obscured and obfuscated to the point of indifference. That all being said, Sun Airway is chock full of incredible words, and you can hear them. "Swallowed By The Night" has some of the more terrific sentiments ever sung in a digital ocean. "I'm just looking for the perfect sentence to keep us alive", a romanticized look at Sun Airway's verses, "I wish I wish/ we could be swallowed by a whale/just a couple of fish in a living ship we'd sail". That's awesome.
The sound, when it mimics the lyricism, is a double-edged sword but it works here. It's subtle, or cheesy, depending on your point of view, but major key splashes feel like intense euphoria at times, like when "Shared Piano" states its focus. "You bloom and you explode", and so does the song. At the heart of Sun Airway is two musicians who used to write songs with guitars, and the focus on songs instead of sounds and melody instead of masturbatory synth abuse is what makes this one of the standout synthesized records of the year, if not the past five. Nocturne
makes other chill-wave fad music feel like a bunch of greasy pizza, good at times, but ultimately not the best for digestion. Sun Airway is more like a coursed meal, refined, artisinal. It satisfies your craving, but it always leaves you wanting more.
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MP3: "Waiting On You"
Sun Airway on Myspace