Published May 18, 2016At Sacred Walls is the debut record by Szun Waves, a collaborative project featuring Border Community affiliate and modular synth guru Luke Abbott, Portico saxophonist Jack Wyllie and PVT drummer Laurence Pike. The fruit of a three-day recording session in 2015, it's an expansive set of instrumental improvisations that channel post-rock, free-jazz, psychedelic and electronica influences.
Lead single and opening track "Further" is very strong, and provides a good introduction to the rest of the work. It finds Abbott layering a series of ambient drones, amidst which Wyllie provides mournful cries from his saxophone while Pike very slowly builds a post-rock-fuelled percussion part based on crisp hi-hat ostinatos and liberal use of his tom drums. Listen on headphones and close your eyes; it's a journey.
The sonic relationships between Wyllie's saxophone and Abbott's synths are especially compelling on this record, the overtones of the former often blending indecipherably with the latter, Wyllie's use of effects often transforming his instrument's timbres to the point that they sound electronic — though he always retains a human touch. Wyllie also coaxes a remarkably full-bodied sound from his instrument, a nice complement to the airy and less corporeal feel of Abbott's synths.
These three artists all come from different backgrounds, but Szun Waves is a natural alliance that displays great musical chemistry. At Sacred Walls is a highly satisfying listen. (Buffalo Temple)