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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Jim McHugh (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, keyboards); Jonah Rapino (violin); Jeanann Dara (viola); Jeff Tobias (recorder, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, Wurlitzer organ, keyboards); Michael Wrasman (trombone); Cory Bracken (vibraphone); Peter Kerlin (bass guitar); Jason Robira (drums, percussion).
  • Audio Mixers: Sunwatchers; Charles Burst.
  • Recording information: The Seaside Lounge, Brooklyn, NY (08/2016).
  • Photographer: Frank Multari.
  • The cover art for the second album by free music ensemble Sunwatchers consists of an embroidered tapestry boldly declaring that "Sunwatchers stand in solidarity with the dispossessed, impoverished and embattled people of the world." Along with the album, the group issued a manifesto declaring their status as leftists who feel that capitalism is endangering human existence. The group's core members recognize the fact that they are privileged white American males, and that they are granted more of a platform for expressing their views than those who aren't. As such, they do what they can to promote positivity and unity, and to show support for human rights. The music made by Sunwatchers is devoid of lyrics, however, so their work acts as a form of peaceful, joyous protest, operating under Albert Ayler's decree that "Music is the healing force of the universe." Their music contains scorching acid rock guitars, cyclical rhythms indebted to minimalist composers like Terry Riley, and blazing free jazz saxophones. "The Hot Eye" blends dissonant, Glenn Branca-esque guitars with hazy Saharan desert rhythms, drizzled with mystical saxophone melodies. The next piece is titled "There Are Weapons You Can Bring to School," and the group seems to leave its meaning open to the listener's interpretation. It's slower and more formless than the previous track, but it does attack with an urgency even if there is no consistent rhythm. "Silent Boogie" is anything but silent, kicking off with an abrasive sax skronk intro and a tumbling storm of drums, but it soon launches into an utterly ecstatic, celebratory groove. "Flowers of the Water" features distant, ethereal vocals from Brigid Dawson of OCS, and slowly builds up from a rough, glacial drone to an overwhelming squall of noise, seemingly piling every element of the band's sound into one final, climactic burst at the album's end. As with their debut, Sunwatchers' second album is sprawling and all-encompassing, but they make their intentions much clearer this time around, and it lends a greater sense of purpose and power to their righteous, freedom-seeking jamming. ~ Paul Simpson
Professional Reviews
Spin - "The music the Brooklyn quartet offers on II, its second LP, finds common ground in the twin squalls of psychedelic rock and free jazz, divergent genres that share a propensity for cathartic noise."
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