The concept of harnessing the sun’s natural energy for powering our daily lives has continued to fascinate and enchant people for decades. From the infamous tear-down of the White House’s solar panels upon Jimmy Carter’s exit and Ronald Reagan’s entrance in 1980, to the recent ‘green’ revival in the wake of growing anxiety about the future of our nation’s natural resources/oil supply, they’ve remained a particular shimmering corner of popular culture all their own, appealing to a wide array of eco-conscious individuals. What’s more natural, after all, than running everything by the rays of the sun, which gives us all life in the first place?
Massachusetts-based sound sculptor Craig Colorusso is taking the concept in an intriguing and life-affirming new direction on his latest sound installation project, Sun Boxes, which consists of twenty speakers, entirely powered by Mr. Sun, each with their own circuit-board generating a single guitar note. Each loop operates independently, so the compositions produced are endlessly shifting and morphing, exploring new tones and pallets fully of their own accord, all dictated by the lag of time between loops. Sun and space work together, in tandem, to create stunning music of a very minimal, restrained, and incredibly haunting variety.
The pieces on this accompanying 7″ release evolve slowly, gradually. They remain structurally simple but always evocative, and incredibly moving. Like William Basinski or Stars of the Lid, Mr. Colorusso knows how to paint deepening shades of emotion and texture using only a few scattered notes. Feelings are implied more than directly felt in these two all-too-brief pieces, building by the weight of their lighter-than-air kinetics, until they abruptly fade out, leaving a lingering sense of loss in their wake. You yearn for these pieces more after they’ve ended.
Each of the two tracks included here is well-titled, and titled with credible minimalism. “Grassy Field” is the simpler and sunnier of the pieces (pardon the pun), while “Frozen Pond” carries a darker sense of lingering loss and nostalgia, at times bordering on drawn-out feedback before the notes pull swiftly back into the ether haze, the last moments slipping dreamily away on a field-recorded crest of seagull cries. It’s a favorite crutch and cliche of music critics to say, ‘the only thing I don’t like about this release is that it isn’t longer!’ But in this case, it’s absolutely true. These two five-minute pieces are delicious appetizers leaving you salivating for a main course. This much emotion across the scale of a full-length releases would be devastating, and here’s hoping that’s looming on the horizon.
And to think, all of this is improvised by our very own sun, and by time. The word “organic” gets thrown around so much lately, but how much more musically organic can you get than this? If all sun-powered ambient can be this beautiful and powerful, then we need to get Barry Obama in on re-installing those panels, fast. (Zachary Corsa)