Sun Curves – Nearly Real (Auditory Field Theory, 2016)


To stare down at the Earth’s surface from afar is a childhood dream that stretches back into antiquity: what must it be like up there, weightless and hovering, staring down at the expanse of the known world and its inhabitants, the globe hanging like a jewel in the void. We know what it looks like of course, our roving satellites and intrepid few astronauts beam us back crisp and tantalising images of our rare Earth, but as good as they are they’ll never match the real thing, never equal the true sight itself. After all, that’s all that images and video are: nearly real impressions, 2D reproductions that only partially satiate desire.

That craving is what we hear in Sun Curves’ endlessly placid beds of synth drone and field recordings, that distant yearning for something more tangible. Sometimes we push our mind’s eye to the very limit and immerse ourselves in the dreamscape, as in “Sapphire/Utopia”, a serene moment filled with turning drones lost in thought, trees bristling in the backfield as the moment stretches in crystalline perfection. The same wistful desire to stare out at the radiant blue marble forever feels stolen from the astronauts briefly as we float through innerspace.

Below there’s opener “Slow Shields”, a luxurious scene of impossible placidity that unfurls like the endlessness of the ocean before us, its lazy drones and thin static hums tracing the horizon through the shimmering atmospheric seeing and refractive twilight hues. Further along there’s the brief “Our Skyline Telluric” and all its earthen, corporeal strength, a homely and surprisingly dense moment sandwiched in a record of sensual bleariness and indistinction, a moment of increasing coalescence that sees things come back to ground level and the real world.

This return is set in motion by album centerpiece “Orbital Decay”, an impossibly beautiful and resigned number that spins wandering drone beds out of its depths, its path predetermined and its course set upon reentry no matter how much we wish to remain. Even in the elongate coolness and reflective melancholia there’s a desire for return, desirous flickers of what sound like twinkling guitar pickings that delicately spin a siren’s song back to Earth and its homely respite.

Of course, “You Were Always Here” and never out there, locking ourselves within ourselves and forcing time to slow just to savour that impossible dream for just a little longer, the clock defrosting from our glacial retreat as the seconds begin to beat a little faster in its pink reverb and reproachful return to reality. It was all “Emptyreal” afterall, we’re reminded in the final piece, as slow waves wash in along the shores of our consciousness, or perhaps beating at the edges of our eardrums as we shake ourselves back from a seaside daydream, imagining the same languid view of sea and sky and sand from a hundred miles up. But does it matter?

In thinking, do you not think of places?
Am I then to think these places of which you think are thought in your head or are they in your head?