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Smile Down Upon Us
Sunset Graves
Mike Tamburo
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Sunset Graves: Love Pours Into Death
3rd & Debut Records

Love Pours Into Death is one of those mongrel-like albums that's hard to get a handle on, hard to pin down. That's less of an issue than it might sound, however, as the recording offers up numerous, track-by-track pleasures even if it doesn't always come into immediate focus. The ten-song set's by Sunset Graves aka Andy Fosberry, an English musician who operates the 3rd & Debut label on which the album appears.

He initiated the Sunset Graves project in 2013 with the single “Concrete Dead Space” and debut album Variant and followed those first strikes a year later with Form Your Ghost. Fosberry's third album Love Pours Into Death presents the next step in his attempt to weave multiple styles, electronic music, ambient, and bass music among them, into some cohesive framework. While the pieces are different in character from one another, they share a tendency for drawing upon scenes from Fosberry's life and rendering them into picturesque form. As a result, the typical Sunset Graves track is more murky, late-night moodscape than conventional song.

Though there's a hint of UK-styled bass music beating at the center of “Mass of Apathy,” the track ultimately registers as a transporting meld of plaintive vocal expressions, gauzy guitar textures, and atmospheric scene-painting. A treat for the ears, “Winter Fruits” showcases Fosberry's inventiveness and imagination as a sound designer when the song's shuddering vocal treatments and future-funk pulse come together so strikingly. On atmospheric grounds, some vague outline of Burial's ghost shadows “I Can Feel That It Has Gone,” though the track otherwise oozes a druggy, mind-melting vibe that would appear to be emblematic of Sunset Graves in particular.

Love Pours Into Death casts a wide net, with everything from sweeping orchestral-styled sonics (“El Paso”) to underground house (“The End in People”) fit into its lean frame, and, at forty-one minutes, is appealingly concise yet substantial enough to leave a mark. Certainly fresh, forward-thinking cuts such as “Winter Fruits” and “My Ruined Frame,” with its live drumming and seductive, tribal-funk feel, suggest that Sunset Graves' music would sound equally at home on a label such as Hyperdub as 3rd & Debut Records.

May 2015