Ambient duo Sunwølf make it pretty easy to immerse yourself in their debut release, Beyond the Sun (Ark Noise). The album, which hits 26 minutes but is full-length enough at that time, will see a physical release in November but is available digitally now, through Bandcamp and the like as is the way of things these days. Drummer/organist Dominic Deane and guitarist/sampler Matt Carrington hit on a balance not unlike that of Panopticon-era Isis, finding a space to dwell between drone-minded stillness and forceful post-metallic psychedelia.
The six-track outing opens quietly enough with the fade-in feedback of “Genesis” (as appropriate a beginning as any), and gradually reveals its instrumental sprawl in a slow-boiling progression that continues for the song’s six minutes. By my count, it’s the longest of Beyond the Sun (points), but it hardly tells the whole story of what Sunwølf are setting out to accomplish musically. Particularly by veering to and away from Deane‘s drums, the two-piece add a sense of variety to their purposeful lack of movement, so that although “Solar” refuses to pay off its own build, some satisfaction comes as the thicker guitar and insistent percussion of “Morose Land” feeds into an overall heavier vibe. That sensibility continues through Beyond the Sun‘s title-track, though that cut is slower, and soon enough, Sunwølf have momentum on their side as they continue through the rest of their debut.
Production is clear and crisp — they recorded with Ross Halden (Wild Beasts) and had Mell Dettmer (SunnO))), Earth, etc.) master — but as the guitar and cymbal washes of “Inertia” live up to the track’s name, it”s clear Sunwølf aren’t interested in sticking solely to one aspect of ambient heaviness or another. Carrington samples a playground late into the track and “Inertia” winds up evocative as it moves directly into the swell of “Time Stands Still” — take them from their names alone and understand that Beyond the Sun is not an album about movement — which incorporates acoustic guitar over a bed of organ hum, culminating in a feedback outro that offers transition into closer “Home.”
Perhaps its Sunwølf‘s most complex track, perhaps not — depends on the process of crafting the prior drones — but the layering of guitars over each other makes for the most evocative melody here on offer, wistful in a still-ethereal vaguery, sad and hard to pin down. Like most of Beyond the Sun, however, it’s a blip, there and gone, faded out almost as it just seems to have set the foundation for a genuine development. Maybe Sunwølf aren’t interested in that kind of thing, but if they are, they have the groundwork set on a track like “Home,” which just as easily could turn into a nine-minute post-metal build but ultimately remains humble in its scope.
Sunwølf are a relatively new band, and Beyond the Sun is their first release, but as it makes for a solid late-night listen, I thought I’d post the tracks here for your perusal. If interested, you can check them out live Oct. 13 in Leeds (poster above), or find out more about them at their Tumblr, buy Beyond the Sun at their BigCartel store, or just check it out on their Bandcamp, from which the following stream is hoisted:
Tags: Ambient, Ark Noise, Drone, Leeds, Sunwølf, UK