SUUNS on Interpol

Lauren Murada
December 16, 2020

This piece is part of the Algorhythms project: artists telling stories about music they discovered from humans. Because where we discover music is an important part of its impact, and not all music is discovered through an algorithm.

Photo by Joseph Yarmush

SUUNSFiction EP is a production of future/past alchemy. The Montreal-based band was forced to explore a fresh process as a result of their current surroundings and the global circumstances that is 2020. Fusing together previous sounds and creative approaches with new sounds, new techniques, new ways of thinking, it is a work for future times.

Ben Shemie, Max Henry, Joe Yarmush, and Liam O'Neill have been playing together as SUUNS since 2007. The Fiction EP is a continuation of their sonic signature, rock that meets dance, or vice versa.

Fiction lies on the rock spectrum, an exploration through noisy, avant-rock. It features hazy vocals, rolling bass, and hypnotic synthesizers with some distortion thrown in on top. The four-piece also enlisted the help of friends Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Jerusalem In My Heart), bringing relentless claps and buzuks on “BREATHE,” and Amber Webber (Lightning Dust), singing a mournful siren song on the penultimate track, “DEATH.”

For his Algorhythm, SUUNS’ drummer Liam O’Neill talks about the greater self understanding he achieved through Interpol’s "NYC."

It's rare these days to have someone introduce you to music - that is, to be in the same room with someone as they present the music for you on a record or a CD, as you sit side by side taking it in, a wordless social activity. As you get older, as you get COVID-isolated, or just regular-isolated, as you curate infinite and ever more personalized playlists, it's not so much an act of being introduced to new music physically so much as it is one of virtual recommendation. Links to Spotify playlists pop up on my phone via text and I might check them out while, say, doing the dishes. Casual and often lonely, this kind of listening is divorced from a social context - the people, places, associations and vibes that add up to an experience. I'm really missing that right now, so I'm going to recount a story that evokes the feeling of those deep, in-person listening sessions, and involves some popular hallmarks: youth, physical media (often flawed), weed, and enduring changes in perspective.  
My college girlfriend and I had a healthy practice of active listening sessions, and would play music for each other often. I was a young nerd who would subject her to terrible jazz and she, being much more au courant, would help me dip my toes into indie rock, very much the style at the time. I was grateful for the cultural currency her recommendations afforded me, and she was a good sport about all the jazz (thanks for that). One awful Montreal winter evening we were in her living room, stoned to the bone, when it came out that I was not yet familiar with early 2000's cultural phenomenon, Interpol, who were hot off the press at the time. Eager to remedy this, she bounded off to her room to retrieve a shiny silver CDR (it was the cheap kind) of Turn on the Bright Lights, and played me the third song, "NYC". I liked it okay - the composition of the drum part was smart, the vocals reminded me of Ian Curtis and Gord Downie - but it was halfway through the song that I had a formative moment, when I noticed a barely perceptible tremolo effect that, as the song developed into its lush climax, began to get more intense, and then to rattle and swallow the entire mix, the beautiful richness disappearing into consumptive noise. I thought it was the boldest mixing decision I had ever heard, I was completely floored. When the next song began of course, the sound was still there, and I realized it had been her cheap CDR making that weird tremolo skipping sound they sometimes made when they got old. For a moment, it was a buzzkill: the amazing thing I had heard was fake, a problem with the CD, and this was yet another indie rock band just like I thought. But the thing is, I still think that the end of "NYC" sounds like that. I hear the same terrible white noise and oscillating compression that I heard that night, when in reality there is none at all. Hearing it that way for the first time - understanding that it was an "illusion" and liking it all the same - helped me understand that when an aesthetic resonates with you, you're not just discovering something that you like about the artist's work, you are discovering something that you like about yourself, your own mind. "NYC" as it plays on record is finished - mixed, mastered and over with. "NYC" as it plays in my mind is endless.

You can hear SUUNS latest EP Fiction on Bandcamp.

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