36 – Sun Riders (2014, EP)

36 - Sun Riders (3SIXSEVEN003) - cover

Only a few weeks into the new year and 36’s Dennis Huddleston has already graced us with a new 7″ EP, Sun Riders. Thankfully, it’s only 3 tracks long (or in my case, 3 with an additional bonus track), which is perfect for my time-pressed existence at the moment.

Opener and title track “Sun Riders” reacquaints us with the music that 36 produced in his last full length Shadow Plays, echoing the same sparse and vaguely morose but certainly haunting thin drones onlaps as, say, “Heather Spar”. It hovers closely to the predisposed theme of the album: some yearning childhood desire to explore the stars. There’s a certain innocence and sadness captured within as we look back on those ambitious dreams of our youth when everything was big and exciting and possible. But who needs to be an astronaut when you can explore the stars through the sound of music?

“Enshrine Exit” slowly peels back the sound as we seem to increasingly descend into 36’s youth, the dangerously wavering drones still maintaining a certain level of modernity within his own sound but now accompanied by a faint fuzzing and low fidelity raiments as it slowly circles our aged, thematic Sun. This weathering creates an entirely different approach to the sound; the aging of it seems to give it a certain greater depth and weight and dimension that the drones alone dont support, the slow fraying of those past dreams and desires as the growing realisation of its impossibility slowly crushes it. It ends abruptly before its time to make way for a fractured, spoken word sequence at the end, the crisp and clear female enunciation of numbers (three, six and nine all feature prominently) not far removed from the sound of a pre-launch countdown.

“Hyperbox” is something of an anomaly when it arrives, compared to the more closely related previous two tracks. A welcome anomaly mind you. The toybox approach 36 introduced in his debut Hypersona is back once more in stunning form, tapping, tinkling, gliding and shimmering its way along in a naively beautiful display, like light refracting off the crystal of some elaborate mobile turning slowly overhead.  Or perhaps the imagining of stars whizzing by as seen from the delicate capsule of some space faring vessel. Make no mistake, it’s one of his most uptempo and compelling tracks to date, and it’s gorgeous.

Finally, “Night Light” rolls in delicately to collapse the pace of “Hyperbox”, assuming you have the bonus track. It’s like the recounting of endless sleepless nights staring at the ceiling as the slow xylophones roll by, but there is an underlying menace and anxiety to this peaceful and beauteous foreground in the form of oppressive and dark backing drone, rolling and oscillating in the backfield with just a hint of lo-fi distortion to coarsen its edges. Perhaps its even the juxtaposition of nights of our youth vs now; that young version of ourselves at peace and well rested compared to the older version who is restless with the weight of responsibility. Or maybe I’m just projecting.

It’s a great little EP, clocking in at only 11 minutes or so, and whilst perhaps not quite as emotionally variable as a longer full length there’s still enough content to get your teeth into, and it’s wonderfully crafted and mastered on top. Just a nice, short EP for when you need your hit of wistfulness on the go.

Whilst I dont necessarily condone it, someone has uploaded the entire thing on Youtube, and it you like what you hear maybe you can go to his Bandcamp page and pick it up for yourself, it’s really cheap.