Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sudden Oak - Causeways of the Sun [Bezoar Formations]

Killer cassette released in the summer by Sudden Oak, San Franciscan guitar/sax duo of John Ward and Matt Erickson (Radiant Husk/Bezoar Formations). I’ve been sitting on this hot little number for far too long.
The first of seven pieces goes straight to the heart of murky psych land. Smoky GHQish vibes abound as fuzzy guitar and fuzzy sax blend into the same hazy cloud. The last minute reveals a great, excellently placed, nearly DJ Primo-esque loop adding a lovely rhythmic bob to all the freeforminess that preceded it. The second piece is less droned, even incorporating some straight up psych-rock guitar melodies. I like the way the sax can kind of hide within the track and then pop out with these tense, vibrant bleats pushing the piece into a different realm. The last piece of the side starts with a rather up front high pitched guitar melody before falling back into a dynamic, beautifully astral stream of sounds.
The first piece from the second side brings in drums out of nowhere. I don’t even know if there’s guitar or sax on here, all I’m hearing is drums and fuzz. It’s an awesome rumble though and breaks up the otherwise percussion-less tape nicely. The next track continues the foray into rhythm with a repetitive guitar strum. That strum builds tension which is further heightened by occasional frantic sax work. The ending is pretty great too, with swarms of angry wasp-styled sounds before rolling a cool short sax melody. The side’s third piece plays things a lot more quietly than anything else on the tape; it’s much airier, looser and eases up on the poisonous, fuzzy fog that drenches everything else. The final piece wanders further from the guitar/sax instrumentatio, using a recording of sloshing water.
The tape is still available from Bezoar Formations, I recommend grabbing it along with Radiant Husk’s Beyond the Endless Swale, since it’s still in print and one of my favs from last year. Causeways of the Sun looks great too, as is usual with Bezoar.

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