Zun - Burial Sunrise - (9/10)
Published on July 27, 2016
It’s currently 31°C here in my neck of the woods. By our standards this is hot, ridiculously hot. But it’s our first proper glimpse of summer here in Britain. Though it is not quite as hot as the deserts of California, this is as perfect time as any to go wandering the fields and the hills listening to that excellent soul-scorching genre of music we call desert rock. And as far as 2016 goes, the coming-together of Gary Arce, John Garcia and Sera Timms in new outfit Zun has brought with some of the most blissful music the genre has to offer: their debut offering Burial Sunrise is an exquisite example of the transcendental journey many bands try to achieve and never quite reach.
There is, however, no reason why a project featuring members from Yawning Man, Kyuss and Ides of Gemini would fail to reach the point of cosmic departure. Even if you were somehow unfamiliar with any of the members’ works this would still play out as beautifully crafted tapestry of gliding guitars, grooving basslines and hypnotic vocals. Do not expect heaviness here, Burial Sunrise is probably the most laid-back album you’ll hear all year but it is also wonderfully produced and textured. What makes it even more special is how the tracks switch from Garcia on vocals to Timms and then back to Garcia again – both vocalists offer up something different – and it is a transition that takes us far up into the sky soaring over land and sea before introspectively sinking back into ourselves.
‘Nothing Farther’ is glorious desert music at its finest. With Bobby Krieger guesting on the electric sitar, the song is awash with dreamlike effects and Garcia’s voice guides us far beyond all horizons. Succeeding this is rhythmic ecstasy of ‘Into the Wasteland’ that comes complete with Timms’ ethereal vocals – it’s enough to induce you into a trance. This is the extent of the album, going back and forth from two different states of consciousness, an interplay of light and dark, a trip to the fringes of reality. At times the album verges towards the swelling of post-rock, heard here in ‘All That You Say I Am’ before taking the cosmic journey to the centre of the self in the blissful ‘Solar Incantation’.
This is one of those albums you could honestly close your eyes and drift to, but it is in no way background music: the way the album is put together calls for the listener to absorb every single intricacy into their skin. Arce is one of the finest guitarists out there and what he has written here proves once again why he is the undisputed godfather of the genre. It’s beautiful, serene, hypnotic and any other synonymous adjective you could think of and more. With guests Bill Stinson and Harper Hug sharing drum duties and Mario Lalli on bass, there is plenty of reason to hope that this won’t just be a one-album group. This is as pure as it comes. And in a world where we are bombarded with heavy-handed bullshit across the globe, it is important to reconnect with the purity they try to destroy. Records like this only come once in a lifetime.
* The track shown here, ‘Into the Wasteland’, is actually ‘Solar Incantation’.