Sun Blood Stories started as Ben Kirby’s solo project, but it’s just as much Amber Pollard’s band now. Her eerie, fearsome wail and hallucinatory guitar dominate It Runs Around the Room With Us (self-released, 2017), providing the perfect foil for Kirby’s laconic drawl and rippling, yowling slide riffs. Drummer Jon Fust holds the groove no matter how jarring the tempo changes get and, together, this dark psychedelic trio makes some of the most challenging, exciting rock music in the Northwest.
Some—just some—of the best recent recordings to come out of Boise
Sun Blood Stories’ second album, Twilight Midnight Morning (Obsolete Media Objects, 2015), was the best local release of 2015. Its follow-up doesn’t try to match its wild abandon, which is probably a smart move. Instead, It Runs Around the Room With Us (self-released, 2017) shows the psych-rock band refining Twilight‘s bluesy riffs, fluid grooves and layers of mind-warping noises to create a more somber, introspective experience. It’s not as immediately accessible, but it’s just as powerful and even more beautiful.
Having recently had Beatles on the brain, specifically the early years of their hysteria-inducing mop tops, I started to think about their early interviews. I started to look up some of those early pressers and was taken aback by just how many times the fab foursome was asked about money and marriage, but there were some gems amongst the clunkers. And so, inspired by the early press conferences of the Beatles, especially their US interviews, I decided to ask some of those very same questions to some of the best and brightest making music today.
I first came across Boise’s Sun Blood Stories while taking a look at this year’s Treefort lineup. It was pretty much love at first listen with these “High Desert experimental psych-fuzz”-makers. Their magnetic, colorful sonic machinations are both soothing and stirring, commanding attention whether they’re caressing or crashing into your eardrums (which they do with equal enthusiasm).
The triad of Amber Pollard, Ben Kirby, and Jon Fust gamely took on the Beatles questions, read on to get acquainted with these new friends and make sure you check their Bandcamp for all sorts of goodies. Oh, and someone please invite these three to play some shows in Europe, won’t you?
1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World
2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War
3. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe
4. Colour Haze, In Her Garden
5. Atavismo, Inerte
6. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us
7. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust
8. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn
9. The Obsessed, Sacred
10. Mothership, High Strangeness
11. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma
12. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
13. Alunah, Solennial
14. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical
13. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
14. Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
15. PH, Eternal Hayden
16. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
17. T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
18. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable
19. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
20. Lord, Blacklisted
Their latest album, It Runs Around The Room With Us, is an onslaught of ambient-psychedelia with Jon Fust on drums, holding it all together. The improvisational element of the band’s music gives multi-instrumentalists Pollard and Kirby, the freedom to showcase their slide-guitar work. And the new dynamic of the band has affected the way they perform live, as well as their approach to the recording process.
“We recorded similar to the last one; in the basement,” says Pollard. “It’s a little different now because we are a three piece and we live together and record at home. There’s something really special about staying up until four in the morning and going to work at seven. And making sure we have enough whiskey to make it through the day.”
If Sun Blood Stories‘ It Runs Around the Room with Us doesn’t demand a headphone listen, that’s only because it’s too classy, too subtle and too busy doing its own work to go around making demands in the first place. It is the third full-length from the Boise, Idaho-based Sun Blood Stories, following behind 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here) and their 2013 debut, The Electric Years, and its weighted high-desert shoegaze moodiness works in part to codify the experimentalism that has thus far been at root in the band’s sound. Emphasis on “in part,” because Sun Blood Stories still offer plenty of fare throughout these nine tracks/46 minutes, but where Twilight Midnight Morning nearly split itself in half between drone-outs and more traditional song structures, It Runs Around the Room with Us — a title that would seem to speak to the energy of its own creation — effectively bridges the gap between those two sides.
New release from Boise experimental band Sun Blood Stories. The new album is called It Runs Around the Room with Us. The high-desert experimental rock band hits all the weird spots in the best ways with their new release. It Runs Around the Room with Us brings you in close and gets intimate, then grabs your sanity by the eardrums and takes it for the ride of it’s life. The songwriting and flow of the album is seriously so good, it’s like Sun Blood Stories knows what you want to hear and guides you on that journey. The more mind-ripping tracks like “Great Destroyer”, “Echoer Approach”, and “Nothing Sacred Will Hold” has such an excellent groovy rhythm section underneath the chaos of the slide guitar. In other tracks the drums seem to be used as a tension release, which gives such a great feeling with this type of psychedelic rock. It Runs Around the Room with Us is one of the best albums I’ve listened to in the last couple of years. So if you’re able to catch Sun Blood Stories live I highly recommend that you attend.
Gird your loins folks, the latest album from Sun Blood Stories is out today April 21st anno domini 2017. Recorded by the band in a Boise basement, It Runs Around the Room with Us begins with a soft, melancholic ballad that nebulously floats above a heavy fog of ambient droning noise. It explores the ineffable feeling of depressive loss in the early hours of evening and, according to vocalist Amber Pollard, describes the feeling of arriving at a destination only to realize it wasn’t quite what you hoped it might be. Sun Blood Stories succeeds in materializing this vision that is effectively continued into “Step Softly Ghost” which has the sultry plod and harmonic timbre of an early Grizzly Bear album before solidifying into a high gain guitar chunk slugfest.
In “Great Destroyer,” the band describes the obliterating nature of time that, like its primordial titan Kronos, consumes its young–no sooner giving life than initiating the process of decay. Vocalist Ben Kirby sings in a detached, deadpan drawl, “great destroyer, roll on” highlighting the simultaneously linear and cyclical nature of time. History travels in Hegelian spirals, ever repeating yet ever moving in some direction. This direction, Sun Blood Stories (and our own inborn inclinations) posits, is toward utter annihilation invoking Manhattan project spearhead, Oppenheimer’s apocalyptic interpretation of Vishnu’s words in the Bhagavad-Gita “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Time is an obsession of Sun Blood Stories, which given their propensity for drone, makes a lot of sense. They zoom in on a moment breaking down notes into their undulating reverberations as they exegete tone beyond a notes placement on a page. In “Time Like Smoke” (the longest track on the album), the image of smoke’s scintillating expansion holds the listener within it’s own limbo. Sounds, not necessarily discordant, but only secondarily connected rabbit trail off into unknown spaces alongside the main, ethereal melody in a similar manner to Boris’ drone masterpiece, Flood.
My imaginary award for Best Local Performance of Treefort 2017 has to go to the psychedelic space rock outfit Sun Blood Stories and their performance at the Linen Building on Friday night, with a set that, despite being extremely ear-searing and chock full of bizarre sounds and instrumental tones, also came through with ample amounts of charisma and serious left-hooks, most notably their blazing, bizarre, yet endearing psych-rap-rock cover of Beyoncé and Jack White’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” which closed their set out with the sort of consummate charm and audience bewilderment other performers could only hope of one day achieving. It was one of a few sets I caught where the band members and the audience seemed to be competing with each other to see who could be more intoxicated, which only served to enhance the strong feeling of togetherness.