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(50:14; Trail Records)
TRACK LIST 1. Ancient Stones (Sundown) 2:20 2. Welcome to the Sandland 11:04 3. Unexpected Trip 7:24 4. Poison 7:25 5. Ancient Stones (Uprise of Jupiter) 0:55 6. Canyon 7:00 7. Millions of Snakes 7:17 8. Roadside Picnic 4:04 9. Ancient Stones (Planetary Standoff) 2:45 LINEUP: Artem Demidov - guitars, soundscapes Dmitry Shershnev - keyboards, guitars Alexey Shulepov - bass, guitars Vitaliy Khard - drums with Katya Zlobina - vocals
Prolusion. Russian band SONORA SUNRISE has been active since 2015 or thereabouts, and released their initial EP the following year. A handful of EPs and live recordings have followed since, all self released by the band to my knowledge. In 2019 they were picked up by US label Trail Records, who released their official debut album "The Route Through the Canyon".
Analysis. Trail Records have specialized in releasing psychedelic rock and related genres, and with something of a focus on bands from Eastern Europe at that. Sonora Sunrise fits quite naturally into this setting from a geographical point of view, but when listening to their music it is rather challenging to actually hear that this is a band from that region of the world. In fact, if anything they strike me as a band at times exploring more of a US oriented variety of psychedelic rock and space rock. The US feeling of this album mainly comes due to the band opting to include a select few details here and there with a sound and a tinge to them with nods towards western roots music and, at least to some extent, the type of music often described as Americana. While not a dominant presence on this album, and often contained to the shorter songs, the effect these details have is to create a distinct identity mark, one that in this case is slightly geographically bewildering one might add. If this is by plan or by accident I don't know, but at least it will hopefully open up a few additional doors for the band as far as the possible audience is concerned. A few exceptions aside, the core foundation of the band is perhaps a bit more traditional though, as they are at their very best when they hit out on longer runs, mainly instrumental at that, of an almost classic variety of cosmic psychedelic rock. The material has an improvised feel to it, with layered guitars gradually developing from one place to the next, alternating between themselves and with the keyboards in what instrument is given the dominant position and what instruments that have more of a supporting role. Fine gliding sections filled with mood and atmosphere and the occasional harder or sharper details maintains both tension and flow in a neat manner, with cosmic sounds and effects used with care and precision as flavoring and sometime dominant effects. Reminding me ever so slightly of bands like Oresund Space Collective, albeit with a stronger emphasis on guitar details. A few of the songs on this album also feature vocals, limited to one of the longer songs and most of the shorter pieces and interludes. When used, the voice of vocalist Zlobina is a natural fit to the sound this band explores, and it will be interesting to see if they want to explore the option of using lead vocals more in the future. Sonora Sunrise isn't a band that is quite the finished article just yet, as not everything on this debut album sparkles brightly. Pleasantly compelling all the way though, and with some really fine moments spread throughout that should have the quality to appeal also beyond a psychedelic and progressive rock audience. Well made and well produced too, and considering that the liner notes states that the material on this album was made back in 2016, fairly early in the history of this band, the end result here is impressive when regarded in that context.
Conclusion. Those who are fond of mainly instrumental psychedelic rock that includes progressive rock details and cosmic elements have one more band to consider with Sonora Sunrise. With the longer songs in particular coming across as at least partially improvised, I would consider those who enjoy music similar to what bands like Oresund Space Collective explores to be something of a key audience, especially those among them that has a desire for songs with a somewhat tighter structure and a bit stronger focus on being compelling also for a broader audience.
Progmessor: Juy 11th 2019
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