Review Summary: Brooklyn-based White Suns realise much of the potential their earlier relases hinted at by pushing their sound further in all directions"I don't identify with the shut-your-eyes-and-pretend-nothing-is-happening mindset, like the chillwave bullshit going on right now. We live in NYC, where there's homeless, people facing tough times making ends meet, and the economy is shitty. For someone to sit in their room and make bedroom pop music that isn't about anything outside of some girl who doesn't like them, I think that's irresponsible when you have a large audience."
- Kevin Barry of White Suns
With Waking in the Reservoir
, their first full-length, Brooklyn-based White Suns realise much of the potential their earlier relases hinted at by pushing their sound further in all directions. The result is probably the most urgent straight noise record released in years. White Suns' earlier releases seemed to draw influence from everything from pure noise to free jazz; everything from 20th century classical to hardcore punk. Their sound was an unrelentingly filthy one, one that managed to find a midpoint between the physical assault of hardcore and the completely fuc
king disgusting chaos of noise groups like Wolf Eyes
without compromising the base impulses of either. This, no doubt, is what earned the three-piece comparisons to bands like Pissed Jeans
, but even the most superficial spin of Waking in the Reservoir
reveals the group's ambitions to be far different to those two bands.
Waking in the Reservoir
is a busy and angry record, and leading the charge is guitarist and vocalist Kevin Barry. Barry's voice is almost as vitriolic as his lyrics, which are probably the most brutish and rudimentary element of the group's sound. Probably the most impressive member of the group, however, is drummer Dana Matthiessen, whose work is powerful and technically adept (see the repetitive onslaught of "First Purge" or the opening fills of "Voyeur"). Each member of White Suns has at least two roles in the group, which contributes to the busy and urgent feel of the record, but it's also the restraint and sense of space that makes this such a successful album. The tension created in songs like "Skin Deep" when the noise cuts out to leave the drums to perform simple fills in between bars of rest is almost unbearable, and it's hard to imagine anything more eerie than the record's title track, which fades noise, feedback and pick scrapes in and out between irregular tom hits. Closer examination of the record also reveals an abundance of compositional skill (no doubt the reason the group have performed in art galleries and with Brooklyn avant-garde groups like Zs and Extra Life) - like the almost catchy grove of "Harvest", the messy outro of "Bedsores" that recalls early Sonic Youth, or the mind-bending guitar riff midway through "Skin Deep" that sounds like it belongs in a Dillinger Escape Plan song.
For a 30-minute noise record, Waking in the Reservoir
is remarkably free of bullshi
t. As with the group's generally angry disposition, nothing feels gratuitous, nothing redundant. White Suns are a group who refuse to ignore what's going on around them and choose to be angry about things that matter, and therefore are anything but nihilistic or pointless, which is one of the greatest and most common failings of this genre. For my part, this is the best noise record I've heard in years, from a band who I've come to expect nothing less from.