Music Review: Sunset Graves, Variant

Published on September 30th, 2013 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Jeffery X Martin

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Sunset Graves is the creative brainchild of Andy Fosberry. Their debut album is called Variant.

That’s all I know. I kind of wish I didn’t even know that much. I want it to remain this beautiful, ethereal thing, a gift we won’t be able to understand until much later.

Variant is the sound colors taste like.

It would be simple to write this album off as just another ambient experiment, a sacrifice at the altar of St. Eno, but there’s far more going on here. There’s a depth, a richness, a morbid playfulness that exudes from every track. Variant rocks and rolls, but it also floats.

The opening track, “Six Minutes Sixty Six Seconds,” starts off with heavily echoed keyboards before introducing a heavy mathcore beat that soon evolves into a gorgeous, almost jazzy, bridge. This leads directly into “Safe and Empty,” which uses unintelligible words to draw the listener into an echo chamber of white light.

Don’t misunderstand: this is not the New Age music your dad uses to fall asleep too. This is not so much music from the hearts of space as it is a satellite, slowly falling back to earth.

Variant is the moment before impact.

“Cala Fia” sends the album off onto another tangent, its phased out skiffle beat blending into a gorgeous guitar cacophony made all the more powerful by its restraint. There’s a constant call and response within the music, phrases repeating themselves in an idée fixe. “Under the Widefield,” with its haunting iron lung sounds and strangely medicinal texture threatens to veer off into Radiohead territory, but stays on its own singular leaf-lined path.

Variant is how eagles must feel, when they fly.

“Everything the Same All the Time” starts with the nastiest garage-band sound imaginable, bass tones that sound like gargling volcanoes. It then mellows out into a gorgeous keyboard part before switching gears entirely, becoming an air-raid ballet. “Airlock,” with its dripping and crackling sounds, brings to mind an old space trawler while “Abyssal Ghosts” brings the guitar and bass back to the forefront. The album ends with “Thunderhead,” nicely looping us right back to the beginning, making the album a seamless piece, bred for the repeat button.

There’s an angry beauty to Variant. The pop and crackle of old vinyl and the feedback constantly keening in the background undermine the electronic angels singing in the polarized haze. The individual songs reinvent themselves before they become cloying, yet the album stands as a cohesive glowing work.

Variant is a must-listen and a should-own.

I’ve already said too much. There should always be a little mystery to something this beautiful.

Variant was released on September 23 from 3rd and Debut Records and is available from the band’s website.

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