Suns Of Thyme – Cascades

Posted: 20 May 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , ,

Napalm Records – 27th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The promo write-up is right in observing that it’s ‘hard to imagine something called Krautgaze could be nurtured anywhere other than in Berlin’, describing the city as ‘the perfect breeding ground for a band like Suns Of Thyme: the five-piece lets space rock, shoegaze and psych with a nostalgic twist masterfully collide with death rock and the likes of Velvet Underground on its sophomore album Cascades.’

But to my old ears, as much as Cascades is shoegazey and psychedelic, what’s most striking is that the album’s nostalgia harks back to the goth sound of the mid 80s. It’s not the bleak post-punk sounds of Siouxsie and the Banshees or The Sisters of Mercy which filter into the sound of Cascades, nor the art rock of Bauhaus – the bands that defined goth without actually being goth, because goth didn’t even exist at that point – but the more accessible alternative bands that merged in their wake.

Loping drums drive fractal guitars that bend and shimmer on opener ‘Do Or Die’, a track which combines the gothy indie rock of Rose of Avalanche with the psychedelic grooves of The Black Angels, all under a vaguely Madchster haze.

There’s a undeniable indie rock / pop sensibility in evidence here, and ‘Intuition Unbound’ points straight back to 1986, amalgamating the celtic guitar motifs favoured by bands ranging from Ghost Dance to Balaam and the Angel via later Salvation. In some ways, it evokes a strange nostalgia for a strain of music that’s strangely detached from its origins and somewhat diluted in context of its roots, but it’s clear Suns of Thyme have both sense of thyme and plaice, as well as an aptitude for a certain sense of (melo)drama: ‘Ich Traum Von Dir’, while still evoking the spirit of 80s goth proffers forth credible moping and a disconsolation that’s actually quite affecting. It’s also a decent tune, and above all, tunes are what matter. There’s no shortage of them on Cascades. ‘Schweben’ builds a mellow shoegaze vibe over a lazy, motoric rhythm, with hints of Chapterhouse, but equally shoegaze revivalists like The Early Years.

And so it is that Cascades is an album that crosses a range of styles and periods, and in some ways, it’s difficult to disentangle nostalgia and anti-nostalgic kneejerk (of course, much of this is very much about a personal reaction on the part of one man who just so happens to be the reviewer), It isn’t always east to extrapolate sincere homage from the minefield of dubious dredging of the past. But Suns of Thyme manage to draw together a sufficiently broad range of ‘retro’ elements and combine them with some songwriting that’s savvy enough to give Cascades a life of its own.

 

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Suns of Thyme Online

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