Sunwatchers: II

Jesse Jarnow on February 8, 2018

Birthed from the always-roiling Northeastern avant-weirdo jazz-punk scene, Sunwatchers’ second proper full-length plays like a document of a band in progress—the current progress status being fire. Beginning at full bliss, the quartet squonks, squeals and blazes through more than 40 minutes of free-range jams for serious music heads, sometimes in all-forward attack mode; other times, opening up into more contemplative spaces. The music shreds and grooves simultaneously (“Silent Boogie”), shoots into clouds (“The Works”) and floats in meditative collectivity (“Flowers of the Water (For Lou)”), sewn together by non-Western scales, hallucinatory repetition and chaos. With capably skronking saxophonist Jeff Tobias piercing the density of the swirl, the band anchors itself firmly in the lineage of revelatory cosmic jazz of Albert Ayler and Sun Ra, but finds a model in the DIY ethno-jazz heroes, Sun City Girls, albeit with fewer inclinations toward sudden confrontation and/or audience-alienating musical self-immolation. With visions of solidarity via noise à la MC5’s Trans-Love Energies, II arrives with a manifesto, and why not? Things are breaking up out there. But the album is a manifesto of its own, with or without the explanatory text, carrying a sense of history and musical mission so strong and noisy that it would be all but impossible to miss the message, etched in musical flames and unmistakable in these bogus times. More significantly, II is more than a manifesto, but an irreducible wail of sound with its own nuances, emitting love.

Artist: Sunwatchers
Album: II