November 26, 2012

Sun Glitters

Sun Glitters is a musical project that is shrouded in just a little bit of mystery. There really isn’t much explanation of Sun Glitters, or his history, or his existence, anywhere in recorded space, save for only a few enigmatic paragraphs.

Through that mystery emerges a project that marks a culmination in modern electronic music up to this point in time. In some lost land between dub, glitch, IDM, and techno, the music of Sun Glitters, lurching and pounding, but also intricate and subtle, materializes.

Sun Glitters makes electronic and bass music. But he also makes something more than that. His songs, though carefully calculated and arranged, evoke a feeling more natural and emotive than would/did their original separate parts. Sun Glitters makes music that, at its best, sounds, well, like a glittering sun. And his music has the unique ability to actually improve upon its differing influences and create something emotional that elicits an emotional reaction from its listeners.

Based in Europe, Sun Glitters has been working with music since around 1998. After honing his sound for many years (what he calls “sound research”) through a low-profile, low-budget side project called Sug®cane, Sun Glitters adopted his current moniker and began to put out music at a fast rate. All that sound research paid off.

Song structures by Sun Glitters, though they feel varied, follow a simple pattern. Warm, heavy bass beats drive each song through a sea of various musical endeavors. Vocal samples, battered and rearranged to fit piercingly high pitches or unnervingly low ones, flutter and float around the sonic space of each song. This effect evokes the feeling of a whirlwind, or a cloud of voices. They surround the listener, moving through the mist of bass and general ambiance that creates the framework of the sound. Beats are sharp, alternating between jangly, loose sounds that act as ornamentation, and precise beats, popping and clicking in time. However, the drums don’t usually take a leading role in the proceedings of these tunes; rather, they play second fiddle behind the pulsating and relentless bass lines.

It may seem that these characteristics may end up creating a one-note style for the music – but there is plenty of potential for variation from that set of qualities alone. Sun Glitters can bring his vocal samples up through the stratosphere or pound them downward to underground levels – he can make his bass lines uncomfortably dominant, or reduce them to a simple background.

For an example of how eerie and powerful he can make those characteristics out to be, take one of his newer tracks, The Wind Caresses Her Hair. The bass line in this song is set at such a high frequency, but at such a low octave, that it feels as if at any moment it may roll over on itself and unravel. But it keeps incessantly pounding, as those familiar vocal samples and synth modulations take the song through progressions in its melody.

“Everything Could Be Fine”, Sun Glitters’ first full-length LP, marks the producer’s first modest achievement so far in his short career. Many of the tracks are perfect examples of the producer that Sun Glitters is – his domineering qualities, tendencies, and styles.

The record opens slyly. The first track “Beside Me” offers about two or three seconds of tune-up before the album launches into the first of its many bass-popping slow jams. But this one is different. “Beside Me” features a beat that is slightly off-kilter – never quite hitting its 4th measure in time. The effect it creates is jarring and uncomfortable.

But this is what Sun Glitters does so well. By working ever so slightly outside the frame of standard conventions, he manages to create new edges for his sound, as well as new sounds and ideas to be explored.

It remains, though, an interesting choice to open the record. But that’s the kind of producer Sun Glitters is. Like any young tech producer, he’s helplessly enamored with the effect of a new and exciting beat or effect. It’s as if Sun Glitters finished working on this track, with its wonky new beat, and just couldn’t wait to debut it, forcing it, out of context, to the first track of the album – it brings to mind comedy legend George Carlin, and his insatiable desire to open a huge set at Carnegie Hall with a racy joke about abortion.

And the song accomplishes its purpose: it creates a surreal, bordering on out-of-body effect, and keeps the listener involved – it’s a risk that pays off.

It’s also in this second song of the album, “Too Much To Lose,” where the depth and mystique of Sun Glitters are really on display. With an inviting synth and bass waltz and the steady and interesting beat played underneath, it takes a second to realize what the vocal samples, split into three mildly syncopated octaves, are saying. At first listen the last line sounds like “One sec you’ll be dead.” Close enough.

“Once holding a gun/I don’t know how/One sec you’ll be there.” These are fairly complex sentiments for an average vocal sample. It’s clear that these voices aren’t simply put in for their ethereal effect. The ideas they explore represent some of the main qualities that set the mood for these songs.

Though this style of music is interesting and an enjoyable listen, it doesn’t exactly lend itself to catchier or more pop-oriented sentiments. But Sun Glitters, on the title track “Everything Could Be Fine,” finds the perfect mix between a catchy vocal sample and an endlessly fun beat, and it actually, despite having no words and barely a discernable melody, gets stuck in your head. That’s hard to achieve with electronic music of this nature.

The more time spent listening to Sun Glitters, the more you realize he’s not like most of his contemporaries – those limited to a certain style by their lack of knowledge or substance.

Sun Glitters is making minimalist electronic for the new age. And in doing so, he’s taking pages from the books of just about every prominent electronic musician from the past 10 years. Sun Glitters has done his homework – he’s probably listened to more records in the past week than I have this year. It’s easy to tell that his ear is remarkably tuned and disciplined – he’s learned all the rules of music, so now, like a great fiction writer, he can start to skirt them.

Sun Glitters describes his music as “an ocean of lush melodies, pitch-shifted vocal samples, ghostly digi-diva choirs, warm bass melodies driven by alternately dense and relaxing beatwork combinations between downtempo and wonky beats.”

But it’s not as easy to break down his sound into an equation as even he would have you believe.

This is music that, though it is complex, is ultimately incredibly rewarding. Not only is it an achievement sonically and technically, it succeeds in bringing the listener to a different place – creating a vibe, and an attitude that is all new, but all good. There’s not much music out there that so readily puts the listener in a place like that.

So throw on some Sun Glitters. And drift away.

Image Credit: Sun Glitters

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