The summer blockbuster movie. After weeks of hype and aggressive marketing with action-packed trailers, millions of people file into a movie house to view a spectacular show. Yet, all too often in today’s movie-making industry, the glitzy special effects overshadow a weak and uncreative plot. Thus, because of these bells and whistles, the masses are fooled to believe that they are witnessing a spectacle of epic proportions. But the discriminating viewer leaves the movie house feeling somewhat empty, having been duped by the hype.
So, what’s this drivel about movies all about, and how does it relate to Sunkissed, the 2002 cd released by a musician/programmer under the moniker of Guitar? Well, in some ways, Sunkissed reminds me of a summer box office hit, even if the comparison doesn’t totally fit. After all, Sunkissed is hardly a candidate to become platinum with its shoegaze-meets-beats approach, and my usual contempt for mindless summer movies is surely note voked by this cd. Yet, indeed, Sunkissed has that all-too-familiar feel of a cd with lots of bells and whistles while offering little in the way of plot. After seeing this cd hyped by trusted sites like Parasol and Tonevendor (who, interestingly, heralded Sunkissed as a landmark album in the music world), I was expecting to be almost literally blown away by the music. To be sure, the sonic gymnastics on the disc are quite impressive. Guitar takes sounds of distorted guitars and layers and loops them to the extreme, creating an odd bed of harmonic noise. Witness the sounds that Guitar uses on “Track 2”; a thick, syrupy layer of guitar insanity. Under the foundation of noise, Guitar incorporates relatively simple electronic beats, and tops off his creations with a dose of female vocals. And it is precisely at this point that Sunkissed falls short of being the miracle of sound it is touted by some to be. Simply put, the songs on the disc are relatively simple, almost to the point of being uncreative and over repetitive. There seems to be no sense of direction in the songs…it sounds like Guitar added simple melodies over his formidable sonic creations. But, by starting with the sounds rather than the songs, the cd suffers. The strongest song on the disc, “Queen Bee”, is wisely featured twice on the disc: once as atypical wall-of-sound creation, and once as a stripped-down remix at the end of the cd. This remix version gives the listener a chance to hear what Guitar is capable of when he caters his sounds to fit the song: it is haunting, beautiful, and is the most focused song on the disc.
Perhaps this review is too harsh. I actually like Sunkissed. The sounds are memorizing, and the disc is a cohesive listen. Maybe, after all is said and done, I’ve simply been a victim of the hype surrounding this disc…hype that elevated my expectations to a too-high level. But, I still can’t stop the nagging feeling that Sunkissed could be so much more than it is. For fans of: My Bloody Valentine, loveliescrushing, shoegaze in general.