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Saturn Over Sunset


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Performer Notes
  • Saturn Over Sunset is the debut of Midnight Sister, a duo formed by classically trained musician Ari Balouzian and artist/filmmaker/then-Sunset Boulevard shopgirl Juliana Giraffe. The San Fernando Valley natives met when Balouzian scored a short film by Giraffe and her sister. Balouzian later sent Giraffe some instrumental music, which she returned after adding vocals in GarageBand, and they liked the results. Balouzian's first foray into pop aside from arranging for Tobias Jesso, Jr. and Alex Izenberg (who co-produces here), and Giraffe's first music project, Midnight Sister give the impression of old souls rather than newcomers in their twenties. The album took inspiration from the local characters and mythology of Los Angeles. The resulting slinky, off-kilter chamber tunes blend elements of Baroque pop, Mancini, noir, and David Lynch diner-booth surrealism for an absorbing set of experimental pop. Giraffe's husky, tunefully murmured delivery helps set a dreamlike atmosphere as glockenspiel, vintage keyboard tones, strings, and haphazard computer noise converge on opener "Canary," a waltz somewhere on the music box-fairground organ spectrum. Later, woodwinds, strings, and piano paint a lo-fi cabaret on "Showgirl," and funky bass, handclaps, and out-of-tune piano distinguish "Shimmy" ("Shimmy the sweat off my neck/Shape it so you understand"). Elsewhere and just as fanciful, "The View from Gilligan's Island" is an instrumental with ominous keyboards and strings and improvised drums. Highly stylized but memorable for both its unusual palette and what are ultimately consistently good songs (for outright earworms, don't miss "Blue Cigar" and "Daddy Long Legs"), Saturn Over Sunset is recommended for anyone intrigued by the idea of retrofuturist anti-pop. ~ Marcy Donelson
Professional Reviews
Paste (magazine) - "[I]t's an appealing smoothie of sparkly pop, disco, 60s y-y, and hints of weirdo psychedelia that's whipped up during the more accessible tracks....Straight art-pop this is not."
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