- by charles filtness Rating: Release Date: Label:
Szun Waves are a three-piece comprising saxophone, drums and electronics/synths, it is a side project of sorts being that the members are all involved in other bands or collaborations. This years follow up to their 2016 debut LP has been a critical success and will doubtless be featured on plenty of the more interesting best of the year lists.
Tonight that critical acclaim equates to around 50 people in this 1st floor space. That is the reality of the live music scene for many performing artists away from the mainstream. It's a difficult task to adequately describes the music they make, in its broadest sense they make modern instrumental music in the field of jazz and electronica. The current album was recorded as a series of live takes in a semi improvised way. Tonight's set is presumably more structured and based around the songs that they've learned to perform live.
They play for just an hour delivering a captivating mix of beats, drones, and textures which can at times become hypnotic. It's a compelling performance and sonically perfect save for a minor mishap mid-set which barely distracts. The synths take centre stage and are initially the focus around which the others play. Accompanied by minimalist drumming on the opener and the sax which is ever present but played with restraint. It's all about tone and ambience, it never veers towards obtrusive as the saxophone sometimes can. As the set develops the drums are more prominent, the playing more in keeping with Krautrock or a motorik beat which encourages you to move.
The level of attention to what they are doing is impressive. There are also wonderfully fragile moments. For example, the last breath through the saxophone and shake of the hand bells at the end of a song are played in perfect harmony and completely synchronised, it's barely audible but entirely intentional. They are not just playing these tunes, there is real musicianship at work here and it's a privilege to witness.