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Coupled Lux Influx


Sunny Shadows


Jacuzzi Suit

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Sunny Shadows are a duo from Chicago that consists of two electronic musicians who go by the names Pierogi and Circadian Bliss. I am not sure which one has the neater stage name, but Pierogi is actually Paul Heinz, the mastermind behind Midstates, who EvilSponge reviewed way back in 2003. Sunny Shadows released this album at the end of 2011 on Jacuzzi Suit, a digital label in Chicago that has since gone under. The album is still online though, and if you like new wavish synthpop, then you should definitely check it out.

The thing that gets me is that Pierogi has taken to describing his music as "space Motown", which is a phrase i am irritated that i did not come up with. That phrase describes Sunny Shadows pretty well: deep grooves, soaring vocals, and reverbing droning noise. It is shoegaze acts channeling The Temptations.

And actually, Sunny Shadows have a good deal in common with Sun Airway and Animal Collective. The music is that swirling sound that both bands typify. However, Sunny Shadows differ in that they have a deep love for the synth bass, using it to great effect on Outlaw, Never Break Apart, and On All Our Clouds . The synth bass is a sadly underutilized instrument these days, and its use here really takes me back to the 1980s, also known as The Golden Age of Synth Bass.

And this is a curious thing to me. On the one hand, the swirling electronic noise that is the backbone of the songs here is not that different from the swirling electronic noise on a Sun Airway or Animal Collective record. But with the simple change of using a synthesizer to make the bass riffs, Sunny Shadows seem a lot more retro than those two other acts. Huh.

Another thing i like about this record is the vocals, or, specifically, the fact that Heinz's voice is recorded under a ton of echo. He is capable of great vocals, and in fact can pull off a Motown style (listen to him channel Marvin Gaye on Never Break Apart), which makes the echo seem superfluous. What i mean is, a lot of times extra effects on a vocal are used to hide a weakness in the voice. But Heinz can really sing, so he doesn't need the echo, all it does is add to the spaciness of the record. I guess it is a stylistic choice, then, but it really works.

The standout track on this record is definitely Outlaw. It has a nice rumbling bass, some strange electro beats, and Heinz's heavily echoed voice. The beat is slippery, almost funky, the swirling electronics and echoed voice make this seem kind of like an electroclash cover of a Stone Roses tune. It takes the upbeat drugginess of the mid 1990s British scene and infuses it with even more electronics. Awesome stuff.

I also really like Never Break Apart, specifically because it most fully exemplifies the Motown part of their "space Motown" moniker. On the other hand, So So Mt Fuji is the space part, a five minute ambient track of light piano under a subtle drone to wrap up the record.

Overall, i am very impressed here. Impressed, and angry that they came up with the "space Motown" term before i did. I'll get you yet Heinz (shakes fist).

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