One does not simply record Sun Angle. Feeding psychedelic guitars and pan-global rhythms through punk tempos delivered with free-jazz abandon, the band—a collaboration between three of Portland’s most restless musicians—generates a kind of lightning in its gale-force live shows not easily bottled in a studio.
Good thing, then, that for its debut album, the group bypassed the studio entirely, recording in a cabin near Mount Hood. Even smarter, it hired Menomena’s Danny Seim—a guy who knows something about translating inscrutable ideas for the masses—to produce. The result is a record as free and feral as the group is in concert, except now, the cacophony makes sense. On Diamond Junk, singer-guitarist Charlie Salas-Humara’s effects-damaged needling dives through drummer Papi Fimbres’ electrocuted-octopus flailing rather than blurring into a morass. Once overwhelming, here it’s exhilarating. Seim deserves credit for the album’s dynamism, but Marius Libman’s bass plays the most crucial role. In the scrum of amphetamine Afropop riffing and speedball-merengue patterns, Libman’s tight, circular grooves are an anchor—a weather vane twisting with the storm but never losing its position.
Sun Angle still isn’t
big on “songs,” per se, so it’s pointless to pick out individual tracks
for highlighting. You have to just stand there and let the full brunt
of the hurricane hit you. It’s worth it.
SEE IT: Sun Angle plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Nice Nice and Like a Villain, on Friday, May 10. 9 pm. $6 advance, $8 day of show. 21+.