Berlin – Canadian psych-rock band Suuns – pronounced “soons,” which translates to “zeroes” in Thai – just released its third studio album, Hold/Still. This follows 2013′s Images du Futur and the band’s 2015 collaboration with Jerusalem in My Heart, led by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh. Hold/Still officially hit shelves on April 15th, through Secret City in Canada and Secretly Canadian in the U.S. Suuns‘ new material was recorded with John Congleton (St Vincent, The War On Drugs, Sleater-Kinney) - who just announced plans for his own solo album – in Dallas, during May of last year. Captured over the course of three weeks, the album is “a cerebral exploration of how to take live and analogue instruments and create a deeply textured ’electronic’ record.”
The first example of that sound arrives with the single “Translate.” Suuns – comprised of Ben Shemie (guitar, vocals), Liam O’Neill (drums, percussion), Max Henry (keyboard), and Joseph Yarmush (guitar) - have been reworking and honing the track for years now, and it was one of the last to be completed for Hold/Still. The song showcases the group’s meticulously crafted sound, combining ominous synths with spiraling guitars, pulse-quickening percussion, and breathy vocals. Hold/Still is a different beast to the Montreal band’s first two critically acclaimed albums: Zeroes QC (2010) and Images Du Futur (2012). For starters, Suuns teamed up with producer John Congleton and decamped to Dallas, Texas. The band also opted to ditch the overdub. The result is a selection of white hot, perfect takes that were apparently nailed in just three weeks. Always on the less side of more, the band sounds even more minimal than on earlier material, and as your eyes adjust to the surrounding inky space, surprisingly beautiful spaces and textures quickly start to appear.
“We write quite minimal music,” says singer Ben Shemie about the album. “They’re not traditional song forms, sometimes they don’t really go anywhere – but they have their own kind of logic.” Joe Yarmush, puts it another way: “It’s pop music, but sitting in this evil space.”
“Evil” is perhaps pushing it, but it’s not far off the mark… and anyway, surely it’s more fun hanging out on the dark side rather than where pink bunnies and Mary Berry roam, no? Some songs take on the metric of a walking pace, like “Instrument” and the mellow “Mortise and Tenon.” The former occupies a similar universe to Atoms for Peace. Space has been carved around the instruments; there’s feeling of life passing you by or looking through a car window streaked with rain. ”UN-No” sounds like a spring being wound up and let go. “I’ve got a lot on on my mind / but most of the time / I’m thinking about you,” sings Ben.
Hold/Still is dark, yet beautiful. It captures the exquisite grittiness of our existence, as does the album cover art: an image of Ben’s former coworker Nahka, “who was captured by photographer Caroline Desilets using a pinhole camera with a four-minute exposure time.” If you hold still long enough, you just might find splendor in the sordid mess that is life.
Hold/Still is available for purchase through Secretly Canadian and Secret City. Suuns is currently on tour in Canada. The band will soon be touring the U.S. and parts of Europe. A full list of tour dates can be found on the band’s Facebook page.
artist, writer, event organizer, and promoter. As a
freelance journalist, he has covered both the underground and
mainstream aspects of the arts, culture, music, entertainment, travel, and
fashion in several cities, including New York, London, Berlin,
Istanbul, Sydney, Bangkok, and Hong Kong to name a few. Fluent in
English, German, Dutch, and Spanish, Triston has been published in The
Huffington Post, Trespass (London), FashionTV, as
well as featured in publications such as the New York Times, Vogue
Italia, Turkish Huriyet, InStyle, and other on-line and print
magazines in the U.S. and internationally. He recently released the first volume
of his memoir on life in Europe, 'Heaux Confessionals: The
Sintroduction'. As a solo performer and with his project band $kandal
Du$t, he has toured in some of the world's most renown clubs,
simultaneously maintaining an underground renaissance,
blurring the lines of all that is traditional and leaving his
indelible, and ultimately unforgettable impression. There is no divide
- brace yourself.