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Saturday, June 22, 2024 — Houston, TX

Sun Airway: an underground gemstone

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By Anthony Lauriello     2/17/11 6:00pm

While I often find myself traversing the soundscape of underground Philadelphia-based indie electronic bands for the newest sounds, I never expected to find a gem like Sun Airway's Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier. In fact, the only reason I listened to the album in the first place was because Dead Oceans, one of my favorite record companies, produced it. The debut album of duo Patrick Marsceill and Jon Barthmus' ambient sound not only echoed in my ears but made a profound comment on the transient nature of relationships ?and love. The album begins with the song "Infinity," a fitting title as the synthesizer in the introduction creates an almost limitless feel to the listener. It is as if one is wandering through the paintings of surrealist Salvador Dali, endlessly searching for meaning. The opening rhythms soon give way to Barthmus' voice, which has the light and airy sound of Owl City's Adam Young but is grounded in a sort of inexplicable sadness. This tone continues throughout the album, even though the music is primarily pop in nature. This combination might not seem as if it would work, but Sun Airway pulls it off with a sincerity that would rival a ?young choirboy's.

The strongest song on the album is "Waiting on You," a lament about a love that can never be. Lyrics such as "I'm guessing we wandered too close to the water/The current's been sweeping us in," tell a tale that we can all relate to, of external circumstances ruining the desires of heart. The song begins with complexity, but as its passion grows it becomes almost a cappella as Barthmus skips octaves and croons in a way that is reminiscent of Animal Collective. Other strong selections include the instrumental-heavy "Shared Piano" and the fast-paced ballad "Oh, Naoko."

While the album impressed me with its consistent quality, the final song "Five Years," clocking in over seven minutes, stood out as going on too long. Sun Airway seems to have expanded the song so much that they seem to lose sight of the listener.



The album description says that Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier would serve as an excellent soundtrack to a Sofia Coppola movie. I could not agree more, but the music also serves as a great accompaniment to this bleak and gray February. As you arm yourself against the cold with your peacoat, scarf and cardigan, bring along Sun Airway's newest creation as well. ?



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