Sunnyvale noise sub-element create a place where Chicago guitar noise and Berlin techno come together, where kraftwerk are remixed by shellac, and where neu! apply their rhythmic aesthetic to autechre’s electronic textures.
In the past year, Sunnyvale have performed a collaborative set with can legend damo suzuki, been hailed by radio 1’s Huw Stephens as one of the best new bands around, and have now released their debut album, box three, spool five.
Formed in 2000, they were initially conceived as a live sonic experiment. Early live shows were entirely improvised slabs of sound using the likes of glue, crisps, clockwork toys and kitchen utensils alongside programmed rhythms, samples, and guitars. These early dissections developed into todays elaborate weave of sonic textures that can shift from confrontational dissonance to the kind of experimentation that can make you dance, all within the space of a single song.
Sunnyvale have played with the following artists: damo suzuki, a silver mt. zion, luke vibert, scout niblett, oxes, hella, electrelane, the young knives, pram, knifehandchop, max tundra, the telescopes and vibracathedral orchestra..
Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element is probably a suitable moniker to kick off a
Forsaken Frequerncies column. Box Three, Spool Five (6) (Field Records)
is described as Shellac-goes-krautrock electronica, and is in fact true
to an extent. It differs in that it's not as abrasive as Shellac, and
not as shabby and loose as a lot of krautrock can be. Instead, it is
restrained, moody and slick.
Terrorizer (May 2008)
Whoever said band names should be short, sweet, and roll off the tongue? Try saying this lot's name after a few bevvies. With a scientific name comes scientific sound – imagine 65daysofstatic and DJ Shadow stranded on a bus that's speeding out of control with Kraftwerk producing the nightmarish soundtrack. Can you imagine that? Part rock, part techno, part what the fuck, this Oxford/London trio utilise all manner of instruments to create their wonderfully contorted sound. Their incessant mechanised beats, chaotic time signatures and industrial loops will leave you craving for more, if your head hasn't already exploded by track three. Get this.
For fans of: Can, Neu!, UNKLE, DJ Shadow.
8 out of 10
'It seems hard to believe that this is Sunnyvale's debut album, such a fixture have they become on the local scene over the past six years, both as instigators of the annual Audioscope festival and purveyors of a finely-honed malicious musical damage that was best described in these pages as the sound of Kraftwerk being remixed by Shellac.
Sunnyvale's sonic assault and battery is best experienced live where volume and the harsher extremes of frequency expose the sharpest edges. On CD the brutality is restrained and their innate sense of melody – oh yes, it's true – comes to the surface. Much of 'Box Three, Spool Five' sounds familiar, since a good deal of it has been released before on the band's myriad EPs, not least long-term favourite 'I Love You Every Time You Smile', which must now surely have been put out by every underground record label in the country in some format.
Not that that should detract from a band who are inspired primarily by the possibilities of post-rock but never sink into the tired post-Mogwai dirges of a million other instrumental bands. Instead the feeling of restlessness pervades almost every track, whether it's the furtive funky bassline following the metronomic electro beats of twitchy album opener 'Godzilla vs. Kathleen Hanna', or the deceptively alert ramble that is 'Talking To John About Punk Rock' towards the CD's end. There's a sharp focus and tight grasp of dynamics at play too, moments of frantic busyness rising out of passages of almost atonal ambience. The best songs here are those we've heard before, the metallic clanging machine rock of 'Girl Thief'; the buzzing, throbbing drum and bass smack of 'Techno Self-Harm' and of course 'I Love You…' wherein a sparse, metallic guitar line tiptoes over a hissing drum machine like a robot ballet dancer negotiating a nest of vipers. Sunnyvale only fail to satisfy when they leave the drum machine on random play for 'Sputnik Was The Start Of All This Peculiar Weather', but even here, as with much of the album, the near-future industrial atmosphere provides a neatly simmering backdrop to humankind's slow decay and self destruction. Which isn't something you'd ever find yourself saying about Keane.'