Sunchase: A decade later, with a new monolithic sound.
Back to life from the depths of his studio in Kyiv. Renowned Ukrainian producer Sunchase, aka Alexander Pavlenko, steps back into the cypher. After a 10 years long hiatus, we are getting a brand new LP. On a brand new label Kashtan, a newly launched label from Ukraine. Sunchase has had numerous singles on such cult labels like Moving Shadow, Metalheadz, DSCI4, Drone, Citrus, Cyclone & Med School since the mid 2000’s.
All of this momentum seemed to just literally disappear around 2012 wish. And then, some new stuff seemed to make rounds on 22:22 here and there between 2014-2018. But since then. We’ve not gotten much of anything. After a move to Kiev and some much needed time away. We have a new album.
“In 2010 I moved from Dnipro to Kyiv, which undoubtedly influenced the sound of this album.
I often used a dictaphone to record kalimba, percussion, voices and more, taking inspiration from nature and its beauty, or the weather. ‘Timeline’ is an album of moods and a musical reflection of a period of my life,” states Sunchase.
Now an accomplished techno and breakbeat producer Alexander is a sought after mastering engineer with a solid portfolio of releases and projects to envy. His creativity has touched not only the dance floors and music.
New sounds, for a new label..
Kashtan is a new Ukrainian record label. Releasing Ukrainian electronic music that are not defined and limited by genre definitions. Timeline is an introspective look into the new Sunchase. It definitely falls into the realm of “concept albums”. This is a multi-genre piece of work that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It moves through you with an array of emotion. Taking the listener on a cybernetic walk through an electric field of joy to a pit of decay. The “mood swings” of this piece convey happiness, struggle, distrust, and hope.
Somehow I came to listen to this album expecting an onslaught of bold, nu-skool, drum and bass. Checking all the boxes of current sounds and trends. But, I was very surprised to get the exact opposite. This record is where the producer has decided that the club is no longer the canvas. Proving that the music must transcend the dance floor. Finding more purpose, with a different audience.
There is a definite presence of live field recordings. Natural percussion and the capturing of natural elements around the artist gives a real life to digital programming. Like giving a broken wooden toy actual organic human parts.
LET’S GET INTO THE JAMS!!!
The story begins as you lift your eyes open to a new day with the tune Hello. The vibrating plucking of strings and doors opening and closing life you from bed. Walking around this new realm. Vibrating with shakers and finger snaps. This is what comes from the mindset of ones like Tricky or Bjork. It serves as a brilliant prelude of whats to come.
We can slide directly into track 2. Step Outside gets right into it. Laden with a subtile keyboard lead and minimal halftime esq. rhythms. The a creeping and rolling baseline makes its way into the atmosphere. The vibe stays in a minimal tech stepper lane. There’s subtile percussion splashes that have movement. Reminiscent of golden age Metalheadz darkness from Doc Scott or Future Forces. Waves of darkness swallow the shoreline of your mind, but fade away into a new construct.
Muscle Memory jumps us into familiar territory. Comes off the starting block hopping with tambourines and soft snares working you over. There are subtile layers of gargling bass wobbles and rolling tones. before everything just keeps rising and rising. I get huge Virus and Moving Shadow influences here. Classical Sunchase in the house. Here to drop a heavy/techy roller up on us once again.
Elevator Dance acts as a segway between the “upfront” part of this album. We enter another chamber of sound. Experimental reptilian heartbeats, train whistles, and childish jitter make up the echo chamber. Sums up the anxious feeling you get when actually trying to escape a claustrophobic situation.
We stroll out of the elevator and into a new door. Night Driving , a lovely bit of future jungle combined with a nu school liquid vibe. Bright key tones and stabs slapped with a good amount of reverb really provide the vibe here. All of the bits of synthetic percussion slaps moving around the room keeping it fun, but not to impactful. There is a minimal vibe. A very intelligent take on modern liquid drum and bass.
Kuela serves as another short segway in between emotions and movements. There are some sloppy “trap” or “dub” styled drum elements. But its actually thunderclaps, moody synth’s and the tearing of your psyche in a dark lonely hallway that work the magic here. Setting you up for a complete mood swing as you open a new door.
Which is where we find ourselves in an underwater cavern. Where everything seems to echo. All sounds dive you deeper into the dark abyss. Revealing a more sophisticated version of bounce and leftfield bass music. Botsad embodies all things that modern IDM music should possess. Especially in the realm of tripped out sound design. Giving me some laden Autechure/Boards of Canada/ AphexTwin glitch and experimental electro feelings I haven’t had in a while. This tracks slaps!!!
Just for You is exactly what this album needs at this point. Taking the best elements of 80’s slasher and low budget sci-fi scores. And placing them into a futuristic context. This is a analog synth lords wet dream. if John Carpenter could collab with Red Snapper to map the soundscape for the new Dune remake. I imagine this is what it would sound like when we get all of the “Spice”.
H opens up the third movement. It sound’s like how you feel waking up out of a coma. Or maybe just a vivd dream, where you are the candyman. It stops the listener in their tracks. Undoing all the predispositions you might of had about where this album is going.
Next is Star Bright. If we walked to a bohemian temple in the middle of Tunisia. This is the vibe we’d fall into. Everything about this song has a untamed beauty. There is a wonderful vocal presence that touches deep into your soul. The few minimal finger cymbals, hand drums,soft 4×4 kick and a dissolving hi-hats create a mystical groove. It’s acid house/ minimal techno on peyote, in a meditative state. This is what it sounds like to look over the edge of the earth.
Another bridges the gap between two worlds . One where we have aligned our chakras, and have now began the journey back to reality. From the dreamland we’ve been in for the last few songs. It’s a great hybrid between uptempo techno and acid breakbeats. The whole atmosphere gets a little darker, the bpm picks up, the synths get louder, and the bass stabs get sharper. If this is where modern glitch meets 90’s breaks, the world of IDM just got a little bit better.
We’re officially out of the realm of fantasy, mystery, and wonder. Now we step deep into the center of the sun with Nowhere. Now that the palette has been painted the blackest black. We can bring out the monolith. The moving analog synth’s are the star of the show here. It’s a sound that you feel like you can taste. Bittersweet. Pulsing, and changing texture in your mouth’s cavern. It is where electro/ techno and drone collide.
THE ENDING :
Potato Outro takes us full circle. Every properly made concept takes us on a ride and drops us back off where we started. Hopefully as a changed person. Crossing the Event Horizon into a new life “after the album”. Like every good amusement park ride, this album must come to an end. An end with closure. But not without actually wondering where the journey actually took us. Or if it even happened to begin with.
HOW WAS THE TRIP?….
It was fantastic. When you go into an album with little expectations, its easier to take it all in for what it is. And this album is gorgeous. Its a full story. I don’t know what the story is, but it felt complete. Too often do we come into a specific genre like drum and bass and have rules we want the artist to follow. The album has no rules. It exhibited zero boundaries.
Keeping the inspiration open to accepting multiple styles being fused together is not only demonstrating composition and arrangement chops. It exhibits an ability to grow and mature as a musician. The only rule was great sound design. Amazing sourcing of organic and natural sampling. Using analog hardware and racks and racks of outboard gear. The sound of this entire record is so pure and clean. No DAWS were harmed in the making of this record.
This is not a dnb album. Timeline is not a return to the dance floor bangers that brought the name Sunchase into our lives years ago. Kashtan brought new music, from a familiar artist, with a new agenda. One mans desire to make music for himself. To give to the world. Is the beginning quest for all musicians alike. Sometimes we get caught up in the noise and the hustle. Forgetting who the enduser is for our art.
Some artists only strive to make music for the dance floor, for the labels, for the critics, for the award shows, for the expectations, for the trends, and for the charts. Sunchase has definitely transcended all of that and decided to make us a unforgettable work of art. And the world will always be a better place with that type of mentality.
I love, love, love this album. It is timeless. If you have an open mind, love electronic music, in all its forms, and go full nerd on sound design. This is the album for you. For me, this will be one of 10 albums released in 2020 that I’ll go back to and recommend the most.
The releases of Kashtan will be executed in a rather unusual format. It will be a limited series of collectible packs, including a USB stick with music and additional multimedia content, as well as other materials. These packs can later be collected into a catalog. Also, the LP will be released digitally on Kashtan’s Bandcamp page and all other known online stores.
This album drops December 1st, and can be purchased here: