I took the title for this post from one of the finest tracks, "Let It Expand", on the superb new Sansyou album, The Glistening One, out Friday via Moon Sounds Records. The song, like so many from this D.C.-area 3-piece, has a certain propulsive energy and, yeah, it sounds as if the tune is expanding outward. This band makes a lot of numbers like that and it's significant that this trio releases music that is usually instrumental and yet the tunes invariably have a sort of unassuming accessibility about them. For those of you who might be new to the music of Sansyou, I think that The Glistening One could be a fine introduction to the work of these musicians and an easy way to become a fan of this trio.
The band -- Matt McGarraghy and David Nicholas on guitars with Davis White on drums -- utilize "Subtle Energies" to -- quoting another song title here -- offer up that rarest of thing in the alt-rock universe: instrumental music that is entirely unpretentious yet wholly serious. Cuts like "Docking Fish" and "My Figurine" sound, in so many ways, like the sort of college rock you grew up on (The Trash Can Sinatras, R.E.M., Ride), just without vocals. The tunes are, like most of the Sansyou output, concise: ideas are offered by the 3 players, there's a certain riff-riding, and the melody is explored and things brought to a conclusion before any sort of muso wankery could even possibly happen; in the hands of 3 other people, this sort of music would lend itself to the very worst of those tendencies but, thankfully, Nicholas, McGarraghy, and White keep things in check, their sound (as always) more Durutti Column than fusion or even prog.
That said, there are some indulgences here but they are welcomed ones: "Level Flight", which in its use of treated guitars sounds like nothing so much as a cousin to the sort of music found on the classic The Moon And The Melodies (1986) release from the members of Cocteau Twins and keyboardist Harold Budd; and the title cut which very effectively juxtaposes some Vini Reilly-style guitar licks with White's near-jazzy kit work. Album closer "Field Of View" positively soars as the drums and twin guitars race over a pure indie melody that is part Marr, part Bernard Sumner. At their best, as on most of The Glistening One, Sansyou can make this kind of thing sound so easy that to write about it almost makes it far more complicated than it really is. And that's sort of why I like this band so much: their tune-age is concise, their playing masterful, and their ambitions modest yet serious. The music on The Glistening One shines and chimes in equal measure but it never overstays its welcome. Those little moments here make up, in aggregate, a fine, fine album and surely the best showcase of this band's music to date.
The Glistening One by Sansyou is out on Friday. I urge you to order it via the link below. The picture up above was taken me fairly recently at a show in Takoma Park. The artwork on the album, on the other hand, was taken by a professional: D.C.'s Nalinee Darmrong, author of that fabulous new book of photos of The Smiths that I wrote about recently.
Thanks to the band, I have a sealed copy of the CD to give away to someone in the USA. So if you would like to win a copy of The Glistening One from Sansyou, simply answer this fairly easy question and email it in to me (kenixfan [at] gmail [dot] com):
What Slumberland Records band is Davis White in?
The Glistening One by Sansyou will be out Friday via Moon Sounds Records. More details on the band's official website, or on the band's official Facebook page. Sansyou is playing a gig with Thalia Zedek (ex-Live Skull, ex-Come), and The Caribbean, at the Black Cat in D.C. on October 6.