Sunn Trio dial back the shred, expand their palette on “Fayrus”

Fayrus is a diverse record, especially compared to Sunn Trio’s debut, but it’s hard not to gravitate toward or focus on the thing Sunn Trio does. It’s also hard to put into words. Improvised arabic avant punk? Scorched desert free jazz? Whatever dumb attempt I can muster to try and categorize Sunn Trio’s arcane racket, the Arizona-based and ever-shifting band of musicians let you have it right out of the gate. The thing can be whirling, like a dust devil, with a nimble and ferocious rhythm section laying it down for guitarist, Joel Robinson, to both excoriate everything in sight and summon a mystic calm. This was a big part of what made Sunn Trio’s debut such a fresh catharsis upon first and repeated listens. There seems to be a bristling at the genesis of 80’s weird DIY Phoenix music (see: Sun City Girls, Black Sun Ensemble, The Feederz, Placebo Records), which music nerds seem to be both recognizing and eulogizing as of late.

Sunn Trio do the thing they do across Fayrus although it feels more concise and intentional in comparison to the flying off the rails jams of their debut. Near-east melodies are prevalent throughout but they’re not a feature, rather coming across as a foundation upon which mood, texture, and eccentricities are worked in. Nowhere is this more accentuated than on “Muluk Al-Ard Al-Sab” (or “King of the Beautiful Land”?? Don’t quote me on that – my Arabic is spotty) , a mid-paced burner trafficking in swarming, insect-like drone, shreddy guitar runs, woodwind freak outs, and ominous, sweltering chants. “Unas Houwa Sobek Be Risha Khadraa” brings out the saz, tanpura, rabab, and oud for a rousing show of esoteric prowess; the kind of thing that I can’t help but imagine a psilocybin-fueled, Ottoman-era, classical ensemble ritualistically jamming out to.

Elsewhere, we’re treated to respite via the sparse gamelan piece (“Matar” or “Rain” in Arabic – thanks for the easy one), a bustling, collage-like, Miles-ish jazz number (“Mukhbir”), and what sounds like an old junky arabic tape manipulated to maddening effect (“Walad Taesh”).

Wild ideas abound on LP2. I mean, who else makes music like this? Sunn Trio voyage across deserts and continents and on Fayrus, they make it out of the subtropics for a few pit stops.


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