Published Jul 05, 2018The guitar can do many things: unite the world, incite a riot or even melt faces with a good solo. But in the hands of Casino Versus Japan (aka Milwaukee's Erik Kowalski), it becomes a tool for some of the most beautiful ambient work the genre has ever seen. Suicide By Sun sees Erik take his blend of IDM, shoegaze and ambient dreamscapes to its highest of heights.
Elements of seasonal themes are found throughout, with the opening tones of "Sunset Wake" mirroring a bright spring sunrise, contrasted perfectly against the chilling echo effects later on during "Frost Nod." "Led Away" expertly captures rich sonic palettes with a mix of choral chants and conveys a lot of intergalactic imagery. He nods to fellow genre giant (and personal favourite) Tim Hecker on "Wave Scam" and "Hope In Color" — an acknowledgement from one pioneer to the other.
Some songs though could greatly benefit from some trimming, certain loops (like main offender "Metric Disguise") lose some of their lustre the longer they march on. For an hour-plus record, the length will be a deal-breaker to some. But get past that, and you'll find a true ambient powerhouse waiting within.
Twenty years have given Casino Versus Japan a lot of perspective, and he draws on this to make Suicide By Sun worth every second. (Independent)