Sunflowers return with their third LP Endless Voyage; a conceptual sci-fi record about the end of the world, the rise of the machine, doubt about one’s individuality and the acceptance of chaos. It has been recently released on Stolen Body Records, the second to be released with them after 2018’s Castle Spell.
This is a story about the Studiomaster, an entity seeking out the decadent minds of mankind and warping their reality from within as it pulls you into its world. As you feel the calmness settle in, you begin to question your surroundings. The journey continues until you can no longer draw the line between your perception of reality and what the machine wants you to believe is real. A simulation where the user is always kept away from the world around them and kept distracted to the machine’s plan. Don’t get distracted, he might be listening in on your thoughts… You will be taken on a voyage with many ups and downs and you will beg to do it over and over.
Listening to it, the classic psych punk, noisy pop sound that the band has been preaching has been polished and tamed (to some degree) with a fresh air of exploration into their sound. A ping pong game between pulsing drums, bouncy bass, reverberated echoes of vocals and loud schizophrenic guitars meet a mellower, smoothed electronic compositions that go deep into the band’s musical knowledge.
Opening with a ‘Prologue’, the story aptly begins, and we move seamlessly into ‘Defective Machine’ which starts as you might expect, electronically with bleeps and beeps galore, all laced over the top of a distinct motorik beat that drives track through as the intensity builds to breaking point. ‘Forest Wind’ could be confused with an Add (N) to X track, a comparison they will surely enjoy, whereas ‘Conflict Taking Place’ is back to their more well known, Oh Sees esq sound. The pacey track has layered sound which create a cacophony of noise as they continue invoking the finest parts of space rock. ‘Dreaming Of Distant Shores’ is an altogether different entity and might just have been a children’s TV show theme in the 70s.
Lead single ‘Dreamweaver’ quickly restores the status quo with its hypnotic countenance and pacey riffs. The silenced section mid track is a nice touch and shows the bands familiarity with past techniques, using them to their advantage. ‘Marble Gallery’ returns to the electronic counter dialogue with hints of Ultravox shining through, before ‘Oscillations’ cranks up the tempo once more. This battling of two styles leaves the listener breathless and in a state of constant concentration. ‘Contemplation’ twinkles before ‘Endless Voyage I’, ‘Endless Voyage II’ and ‘Epilogue’ are used to bring the epic to a close. Their contrasting styles once more show the versatility of the musicians and mark this out as something truly interesting.
Sunflowers have created their own form of rock opera here, creating a dialogue to accompany the music they create and in so doing have planted themselves up their with the space rock greats.