Style: Psychedelic Blues Rock
Release Date: 16 May 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook
Yesterday, I reviewed a couple of albums from Peruvian bands and I'm moving virtually north to Mexico for a couple more very different outfits today. It may be hard to describe SixSuns, who hail from Ecatepec de Morelos outside Mexico City, because they freely admit that "ninguna de las composiciones suena al mismo género", which means that their songs are often from utterly different genres.
That becomes obvious quickly. Taurus, the instrumental opener, is space rock in the Hawkwind vein, albeit a little more grounded. Strange Blues, however, is emphatically a blues song, with the voice of Angie Jiménez coming to the fore. Someone else joins in later for a spoken section in accented English, but the song belongs to her and, eventually, Daniel Moisés Rojas, who plays (I presume) the laid back bluesy guitar and the much more intense solo that brings us home. The cymbals are overdone, but that might be the mix. I took the 16 KHz range down to nothing and it sounded great.
Simple Things is a slow and steady folk rock song. It's decent enough and it finds its groove, with some mellow synths from Jorge Barrón elevating it and a nice vocal outro too, but it fades entirely from memory by the time we're absorbed by Cosmos, an epic psychedelic workout that takes up the middle ten minutes of the album. Realising just how varied this record is, I started it again after Cosmos and had already forgotten Simple Things.
Cosmos has a bluesy vibe but they're cosmic blues this time. It's a pleasant song early on, with a vibe so laid back it's almost horizontal, but it gets better still. I loved this because it's both warm and peaceful, as if we're out there adrift somewhere in the cover art, but we're safe and comfortable. Life is good! Rojas takes over for a guitar workout before handing over in turn, almost like a relay race, to Barrón for a solo section on the synths. Eventually, Jiménez returns to wrap the song up, but we wonder how long we were gone, lost in the music.
Frankly, this album is worth your money for Cosmos alone, but there's more. There are only seven songs here but, between them, they last over forty-six minutes. One of those is Gypsy, a much heavier song that mixes stoner rock, seventies Deep Purple and folk-influenced prog like early Genesis. It feels instrumental but Jiménez's voice shows up halfway through to elevate it. As great as Cosmos is, Gypsy may be my favourite song here because it carries a real emotional weight to it. It's achingly beautiful, perhaps a darker side to the lightness of Cosmos.
That leaves a couple more blues songs: Childhood, a shorter piece with more strong keyboards, and Misery Mind, which closes out the record with a wink and a grin. It's playful and fun and gives everyone in the band a moment in the spotlight. Néstor Yzmaya gets a bass solo a couple of minutes in before handing off to Barrón and then Rojas. Oscar Garcia deserves praise here for accompanying everyone ably on his drums wherever they take the song.
In the end, the way the band play with genres ends up being their best and worst attribute. On the positive side, they're good at all of this. They're good as an entirely instrumental band, but they're good with vocals too. On the negative side, I wonder if they'd do better splitting up their different sounds onto different albums. Throw out a straight blues album and then give us Cosmos and Gypsy stretched out to album length. Each of those would be a little more coherent experience than this album that combines those two sounds. But hey, where would Misery Mind go? It could end up on either.
I have no idea why SixSuns, when there are only five band members, however brightly they shine. Maybe the sixth is creativity.