Sunny Graves: Bayou EP

Previously operating under the Jahbitat alias (under which he released material on Project Mooncircle from 2007 to 2011), Barcelona-based electronic musician Simon Williams now produces music under the Sunny Graves name, the debut release of which now arrives as a four-track EP from Barcelona-based Disboot. Recorded in Barcelona and New York during 2013, the material eludes easy stylistic capture in locating itself within a dense and hazy netherworld drawing upon electronica, ambient, and dance music-related genres. Just as its cover image shows multiple parts separated from one another yet, as implied by simple proximity, presumably related, the EP's twenty-three minutes coalesce into a cohesive whole despite the tension that results when contrasting styles share compositional space.

The heavily saturated character of the Sunny Graves style is brought into immediate focus during the dynamic opener “Spring (Slow Return)” when it threads synthesizer arpeggios, hammering techno pulses, percussive clatter, and enveloping ambient textures into an all-consuming force-field. Pulling away from the cosmic aura of the opener, the serenading “Bayou” initially plants its feet on the ground by working a dog's bark into its design before rapidly swelling into an ethereal swirl of synthesizer patterns and crackle-drenched smolder. “Drawing Hands in Soft Light” nudges the Sunny Graves sound in the direction of vocal-based electronica in weaving a twilight vocal sample into a tripped-out, beat-driven arrangement that's indebted as much to kosmische musik as garage.

Williams' tracks engage the listener by first building in intensity until a point of maximum pressure is reached and then decompressing, with the tension released in mirror-like manner. Though traces of jungle, techno, house, electronica, and ambient soundscaping can be located within the tracks, they're never present in isolation from one another; instead, the prototypical Sunny Graves production—at least insofar as such a determination can be made based on the evidence of an EP—distills all such influences into a pulsating totality that thwarts attempts at easy categorization.

August-September 2014