The Prickle (@ThePrickle) January 15, 2019
This nu jazz collaboration between bassist Adam Neely and drummer Shawn Crowder takes retro, 8-bit musings and blows it up into progressive electronic jazz of epic proportions. vol. 1 is only 10 minutes long in total, and vol. 2 is only 17 minutes long, but the musical journey of these ten tracks covers more ground than most albums ever achieve.
In vol. 1, the bit-crushed, synthetic vocal announcement of “Level One” takes us right back to arcade-era heaven, with little blasts of “level-up” style sound effects and a rapid-fire, angular bass drive. “I Walk Alone” closes the EP, with guest vocalist Justina Maria Soto offering an open-hearted dance vocal over a chaotic blast of drum & bass.
vol. 2 appears to build to the final, aptly-named track “Electro”, by far the longest track. Incomprehensible snatches of various singers are rapidly intercut, mixing the Daft Punk Discovery sound, with unbelievably overdriven drums and layers of phat synths, as well as a saxophone solo (Jared Lee). “Ostinato”, which doesn’t appear to contain a single repeating bar or fragment, features totally acoustic strings (Tomoko Akaboshi) in a timbral surprise.
It takes a while to adjust to the insanity of the arrangements, which keep changing every second, and allow almost no room to breathe, as every level of pitch appears occupied with some sort of fascinating 8-bit flourish or unexpected cross-rhythm. And then the track is over; sometimes as quickly as 90 seconds. EDM meets nostalgia meets jazz meets utter genius.
You can stream both volumes of sungazer on Bandcamp.