Casino Versus Japan – Suicide By Sun (Self-released, 2018)


Suicide By Sun is not a statement on the heatwave we’ve been enduring for the last few weeks (at what point do heatwaves just become part of Summer?); rather, it’s a series of careful loops that embody our time spent beneath the Sun. Subtle distinctions are made on the time of year, through musical character and track titling, but make no mistake this is not designed to be a Summer exclusive record.

And indeed why should it be? The Sun is a perennial figure, one seen, experienced, and indeed enjoyed all year round. We live, die, and everything else in between under its gaze. Allusions to the cold season fall early, with “Frost Nod” scattering like rays off a quiescent pond in the white months as echoic lines shimmer out, stripping back further in the abyssal depths of “Deep In Black Night”. Melody barely finds its way here, acknowledgement of absence, life crumbling into a faint haze in the darkness, turned from the Sun.

There is time to bask beneath it of course, when the time is right: “Lazy Girl Loop” spins out in indistinctness, soft guitar pickings coupling with drifting chords lost in satisfaction. Precursor “Goodbye Sinister Clouds” welcomes its arrival as well, distantly humming and hovering as gentle bleary airs waft the piece slowly along, making an opening for the radiant god. Late album “Autumn Trills” sneaks in a fading, ebbing shot too, soaking up the remnant golden light and its last vestiges of warmth before the long dark envelopes us.

Idiosyncrasy is a particular influence, motifs circling around in subtly evolving guises to underscore certain feelings. Sophomore “Not Dreaming” carefully mirrors the easy guitar strings of “Lazy Girl Loop” but now subdued and faintly melancholic, awash in Winter’s surprising, creeping light. Album centerpiece “Led Away” finds itself wrapped in lush cyclic tones, fractal power that carries one to Caribbean shores on its insistent and sparkly progressions. Shortly thereafter it disappears into the darkling “Pretty Rare Nowhere”, the perfect dream cracking in sombre guitar crooning, all blue and wilted with the precious moment passed.

Those sentiments of loss and sadness come as paradox to the brightness but melancholia is never seasonal. Resultant “Sad Clock” is perhaps the only Basinski reminiscent moment here, turning in tired motions as the moments melt away, happiness suspended in its ticking repetitions. “Metric Disguise” almost provides the layup for it too, squeezing layered tones and drones into a politely jostling mass, senses and instants bleeding one into the next, masking the passage of time with a sort of reckless, sad abandon.

At 72 minutes and 22 tracks this can, at times, feel a little busy, populated as it is with humble little loops that cover a range of times and places and feelings. But in that diversity is a pleasant connectivity and cohesion, a lifeblood in the consistent elegance of the guitar that generates a beautiful suite of moods and tones bridged under the eternal star. Beautifully themed and excellently approached.